Animal Cognition

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 47–54 | Cite as

How fish do geometry in large and in small spaces

  • Valeria Anna Sovrano
  • Angelo Bisazza
  • Giorgio Vallortigara
Original Article


It has been shown that children and non-human animals seem to integrate geometric and featural information to different extents in order to reorient themselves in environments of different spatial scales. We trained fish (redtail splitfins, Xenotoca eiseni) to reorient to find a corner in a rectangular tank with a distinctive featural cue (a blue wall). Then we tested fish after displacement of the feature on another adjacent wall. In the large enclosure, fish chose the two corners with the feature, and also tended to choose among them the one that maintained the correct arrangement of the featural cue with respect to geometric sense (i.e. left-right position). In contrast, in the small enclosure, fish chose both the two corners with the features and the corner, without any feature, that maintained the correct metric arrangement of the walls with respect to geometric sense. Possible reasons for species differences in the use of geometric and non-geometric information are discussed.


Geometric module Spatial orientation Modularity Fish Chick Children 



We thank Rosa Damiani for help with training of the animals. G.V was supported by grants MIUR Cofin 2004, 2004070353_002 “Intel-lat” and MIPAF “Ben-o-lat”.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Valeria Anna Sovrano
    • 1
  • Angelo Bisazza
    • 1
  • Giorgio Vallortigara
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of General PsychologyUniversity of PaduaPadovaItaly
  2. 2.Department of Psychology and B.R.A.I.N. Centre for NeuroscienceUniversity of TriesteTriesteItaly

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