Scientists from Rockefeller University have developed an underwater touch screen through which dolphins are able to interact and make decisions using applications.
The system, the first of its kind and installed at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, will be used to investigate the intelligence and communication of dolphins, providing them with options and control over a number of activities. The researchers believe that this technology will help to extend the high-throughput revolution in biology that whole genome sequencing and the BRAIN project have brought to us in the field of animal cognition.
The three-meter underwater touchscreen offers specialized dolphin "apps" and a symbolic keyboard to provide intelligent and highly social dolphins with opportunities to interact with the system.
To make the system safe for dolphins, the touch screen has been installed outside an underwater viewing window, so that there are no parts of the device in the pool: the animals' touch is detected purely optically. While the research is still in its early stages, the team has embarked on studies aimed at understanding dolphin learning and vocal communication, their symbolic communication ability, and what patterns of behavior can emerge when animals have the ability to request items, Interactions and images.
"We hope that this technologically sophisticated touch screen will be enriching for dolphins and also enrich our science by opening a window into the minds of dolphins," says Diana Reiss. dolphin cognition specialist and team member. "Giving dolphins greater choice and control allows them to show us reflections of their way of thinking and can help us decipher their vocal communication," he added in a statement.
Reiss is known for her earlier work demonstrating "mirror recognition" in dolphins (and elephants), as well as a previous study of the dolphin that pioneered the use of an interactive underwater keyboard system and demonstrated its ability for vocal imitation. spontaneous and self-learning.