Do Fish Dream of Electric Eels?

And now, because I’m a crazy loner who lives on her own, it’s time for a story about Sam’s fish.

Johnny spent all of yesterday building a bubble nest in the middle of the little ruin that graces his fishbowl. Now, The Professor does this regularly, but this was the first time I’d ever seen Johnny at the task. And boy, was that little guy determined. He was resolutely at the top of his bowl, little mouth gulping at the air as he made his bubbles. Nothing would distract him from his task, including me, trying to distract him (because I am an asshole). Not even feeding time could pull him from his duty. It’s like he knew that if he worked long and hard enough, I’d give him a lady Betta to make sweet, sweet fishy love to.

Unfortunately, Johnny learned what The Professor learned long ago– I am a withholding bitch who will not give them any ladiez. This morning, I wandered over to his bowl to find his magnificent bubble nest gone, destroyed in what I can only imagine was the rage-induced thrashings of a fish who realizes he’s wasted a whole day trying to woo a lady that will never come. Poor little guy.

At least, that’s what I assume he was thinking. Because I am not a fish and do not know anything about fish thoughts.

But while I am in the dark about fish thoughts, researchers at Japan’s National Institute of Genetics are not. Or, at least, they’re less in the dark. The group managed to capture the first video of a thought passing through a fish’s brain. Check it:

True, it’s probably not a terribly complex thought (but I can’t be too judgmental, seeing as my most recent thought was “Why the fuck is my lip bleeding?”), but it’s still freaking awesome. The researchers were able to capture this little thought using a super-sensitive fluorescent probe they created to detect neural activity, as well as a genetic probe that can be inserted directly into the neurons of interest. This two-pronged attack allows us to see neuronal activity at the cellular level.


The thought pictured above occurred when the little zebrafish being observed was checking out a paramecium flitting around it. We don’t know what that thought was, but it was probably something along the lines of, “Mmm, lunch.”

This probe is just beyond cool. It opens new doors in neural studies, and it could potentially help us understand how connections between brain cells work together to produce thoughts. You get that? It could help us understand how thought works, not just in humans, but in animals as well.

And until then, it allows us to see a little fish thinking. And while the thought itself remains a mystery, it’s beautiful to watch it.

‘s not gonna help me understand Johnny or The Professor, though. Thankfully, their rage and spite comes across loud and clear.

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