Pigs, animals that can use tools and recognize themselves in the mirror, have one more way to demonstrate that they are really smart: play video games.
In a study headed by Purdue University professor Candace Croney, four pigs were made to learn how to use joysticks and play a video game with a simple goal: move a cursor so it hits the edge of a wall. At first, all four sides of the gaming screen had walls. Then it was reduced to three, then two and finally just one. At the most difficult setting, the single wall became smaller and started to move.
With such a simple game, the study got these interesting findings:
· The pigs performed consistently well, except on the highest game difficulty.
· Two of the pigs were able to remember and play the game after a one-year hiatus, which suggests they have long-term memory.
· Treats didn’t have to be the source of motivation. The pigs performed better when they were given verbal praises.
These findings made Croney ponder on how human beings should treat pigs, given their sentience.