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Cuttlefish retrieve whether they smelt or saw a previously encountered item


Billard, Pauline; Clayton, Nicola S.; Jozet-Alves, Christelle (2020), Cuttlefish retrieve whether they smelt or saw a previously encountered item, Dryad, Dataset,


According to the Source Monitoring Framework, the origin of a memory is remembered through the retrieval of specific features (e.g. perceptive, sensitive, affective signals). In two source discrimination tasks, we studied the ability of cuttlefish to remember the modality in which an item had been presented several hours ago. In experiment 1, cuttlefish were able to retrieve the modality of presentation of a crab (visual vs olfactory) sensed before 1h and 3hrs delays. In experiment 2, cuttlefish were trained to retrieve the modality of presentation of fish, shrimp, and crabs. After training, cuttlefish performed the task with another item never encountered before (e.g. mussel). Cuttlefish successfully passed transfer tests without and with delay (3hrs). This study is the first to show the ability to discriminate between two sensory modalities (i.e. see vs smell) in an animal. Taken together, these results suggest that cuttlefish can retrieve perceptual features of a previous event, namely whether they had seen or smelled an item.

Usage Notes

The first sheet corresponds to the first experiment and the second sheet corresponds to the second experiment. A legend is inserted below the test tables for each sheet to make the reading clearer.

In each table, date, condition, success of the trial (Yes/No), success in total, number of trials, and number of trials successful out of 10 trials are marked. 

Condition 1= no stimulation

Condition 2=visual stimulation of crab (experiment 1), and other items (experiment 2). 

Condition 3=olfactory stimulation of crab (experiment 1), and other items (experiment 2).

The order of the condition is different than those presented in the article on purpose (because it made more sense to present the "no stimulation" after the others). 

Once cuttlefish reached the learning criterion of 8 correct answers out of 10 consecutive trials, it was hilighted in blue. The tests are hilighted in red. The results of the tests are included in the tables above the legend. 

In the test tables, conditions, delays, and results are marked. "Conditions" is either condition 2 (visual stimulation) or condition 3 (olfactory stimulation). Short delay corresponds to 1h, and long delay corresponds to 3hrs. 


Agence Nationale de la Recherche, Award: ANR-18-CE02-0002