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Pigs can learn how to play video games

In a new study published by Frontiers, four pigs learned how to play video games by moving a joystick with their snouts. According to the experts, the animals demonstrated that they understood the concept of the computer games despite having some physical limitations. 

The researchers said the fact that these far-sighted animals with no opposable thumbs could succeed at the task is “remarkable.”

The study was focused on two Yorkshire pigs and two Panepinto micro pigs. All four animals were trained to manipulate a joystick with their snouts in front of a computer monitor. Next, they were taught how to play a video game where the goal was to move a cursor toward up to four target walls on the screen.

Each pig performed well above chance, which indicates that the animals were fully aware of the connection between the movement of the joystick and the cursor on the computer screen. 

“It is no small feat for an animal to grasp the concept that the behavior they are performing is having an effect elsewhere. That pigs can do this to any degree should give us pause as to what else they are capable of learning and how such learning may impact them,” said study lead author Dr. Candace Croney.

Previous research has shown that pigs are capable of various types of learning ranging from basic obedience commands to more complex behaviors.

The current study revealed that pigs become more persistent as a result of social contact. Verbal encouragement motivated them to complete the most challenging tasks. 

“This sort of study is important because, as with any sentient beings, how we interact with pigs and what we do to them impacts and matters to them,” said Dr. Croney. 

“We therefore have an ethical obligation to understand how pigs acquire information, and what they are capable of learning and remembering, because it ultimately has implications for how they perceive their interactions with us and their environments.”

The study is published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

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