Reinforcing and discriminative stimulus properties of music in goldfish

Behav Processes. 2013 Oct;99:26-33. doi: 10.1016/j.beproc.2013.06.009. Epub 2013 Jun 21.


This paper investigated whether music has reinforcing and discriminative stimulus properties in goldfish. Experiment 1 examined the discriminative stimulus properties of music. The subjects were successfully trained to discriminate between two pieces of music--Toccata and Fugue in D minor (BWV 565) by J. S. Bach and The Rite of Spring by I. Stravinsky. Experiment 2 examined the reinforcing properties of sounds, including BWV 565 and The Rite of Spring. We developed an apparatus for measuring spontaneous sound preference in goldfish. Music or noise stimuli were presented depending on the subject's position in the aquarium, and the time spent in each area was measured. The results indicated that the goldfish did not show consistent preferences for music, although they showed significant avoidance of noise stimuli. These results suggest that music has discriminative but not reinforcing stimulus properties in goldfish.

Keywords: Auditory discrimination; Auditory reinforcement; Fish; Music; Operant conditioning; Teleost.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Animals
  • Conditioning, Operant / physiology
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Discrimination Learning / physiology*
  • Discrimination, Psychological / physiology*
  • Food
  • Generalization, Psychological
  • Goldfish / physiology*
  • Music / psychology*
  • Noise
  • Reinforcement, Psychology*