RESEARCH: Mice can tell the difference between an image and the real thing

This is the first study that shows behavioural evidence that laboratory mice have perceptual abilities, just like mammalian humans and non-human primates (apes, chimpanzees, gibbons, gorillas, lemurs, monkeys, etc.). 

Robert W Stackman and FAU neuroscience researchers from the Department of Psychology, Charles E Schmidt College of Science, Stiles-Nicholson Brain Institute, Center for Complex Systems and Brain Science, and Institue for Human Health and Disease Intervention found that ‘a functional mouse hippocampus is required for this form of non-spatial visual recognition memory and picture-object equivalence.’

The role of the hippocampus in the brain is to fetch a memory of a picture and match it to another representation of the same object.

The researchers determined the findings by observing mice. If a mouse spent more than 30 seconds looking at a picture of an object, it could then discriminate between the physical (real) object, such as a real chess piece – the castle and the bishop, and a model of the physical object (an image of the chess piece). This occurred regardless of symmetry, silhouette, likeness, viewng angle, composition, colour, light, and image realism.

Robert W Stackman said that the results provide convincing evidence that the mouse could also be given other experiments on aspects of mammalian visual perception and recognition.



Florida Atlantic University. “Photo or the real thing? Mice can inherently recall and tell them apart, experiments show: Study provides first evidence that mice employ higher-order cognitive processes like humans and non-human primates.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 March 2022. <>. 

Photographer: Martina Nicolls


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