A popular TikTok challenge has evolved in which kids resist eating snacks; a new study finds that cuttlefish can do the same.
According to the research, cuttlefish can delay gratification—wait for a better meal rather than be tempted by the one at hand—and those that can wait longest also do better in a learning test. This intriguing report marks the first time a link between self-control and intelligence has been found in an animal other than humans and chimpanzees.
The research, which was published March 3 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, was conducted at the Marine Biological Laboratory while lead author Alexandra Schnell of the University of Cambridge in the U.K. was in residence there as a Grass Fellow. Founded in 1888 in Woods Hole, MA, the Marine Biological Laboratory is a leading institution in fundamental biological research and is affiliated with the University of Chicago.
“We used an adapted version of the Stanford marshmallow test, where children were given a choice of taking an immediate reward (1 marshmallow) or waiting to earn a delayed but better reward (2 marshmallows),” Schnell said. “Cuttlefish in the present study were all able to wait for the better reward and tolerated delays for up to 50-130 seconds, which is comparable to what we see in large-brained vertebrates such as chimpanzees, crows and parrots.”