Vigorous exercise on land gives amphibious fish a brain boost, researchers have found. “It’s a fish out of water. It just seems so counterintuitive, but it’s really helpful for these fish,” biologist Giulia Rossi told CBC Radio’s Quirks & Quarks host Bob McDonald. Rossi put amphibious fish through a maze for 10 consecutive days, and found the fish that had been exercised, as well as the group that had been randomly exposed to air, performed significantly better than the group that had just been in water, learning the most efficient route through the maze and finding the food quicker. She then examined the fish brains, and found that in the areas responsible for spatial cognition, the animals from the air-and-water and exercise groups had more proliferating or dividing cells, a process called neurogenesis. “Fish have a huge capacity for neurogenesis, so lots of different regions in their brain can actually form new neurons. Fish are really good at it. Other vertebrates like humans (are) actually not that great at doing that,” said Rossi.