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Visually guided decision making in foraging honeybees.

Zhang S, Si A, Pahl M - Front Neurosci (2012)

Bottom Line: The trained animals learn how to solve a task, and do so with a high accuracy, but when they are presented with a new variation of the task, they apply the learnt rules from the earlier setup to the new situation, and solve the new task as well.Honeybees therefore not only feature a rich behavioral repertoire to choose from, but also make decisions most apt to the current situation.The experiments in this review give an insight into the environmental cues and cognitive resources that are probably highly significant for a forager bee that must continually make decisions regarding patches of resources to be exploited.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Centre of Excellence in Vision Science, Research School of Biology, The Australian National University Canberra, ACT, Australia.

ABSTRACT
Honeybees can easily be trained to perform different types of discrimination tasks under controlled laboratory conditions. This review describes a range of experiments carried out with free-flying forager honeybees under such conditions. The research done over the past 30 or so years suggests that cognitive abilities (learning and perception) in insects are more intricate and flexible than was originally imagined. It has become apparent that honeybees are capable of a variety of visually guided tasks, involving decision making under challenging situations: this includes simultaneously making use of different sensory modalities, such as vision and olfaction, and learning to use abstract concepts such as "sameness" and "difference." Many studies have shown that decision making in foraging honeybees is highly flexible. The trained animals learn how to solve a task, and do so with a high accuracy, but when they are presented with a new variation of the task, they apply the learnt rules from the earlier setup to the new situation, and solve the new task as well. Honeybees therefore not only feature a rich behavioral repertoire to choose from, but also make decisions most apt to the current situation. The experiments in this review give an insight into the environmental cues and cognitive resources that are probably highly significant for a forager bee that must continually make decisions regarding patches of resources to be exploited.

No MeSH data available.


Investigation of “top-down” processing in honeybees. Adapted from Zhang and Srinivasan (1994). (A) Experimental setup; (B) bees are trained and tested directly on camouflaged patterns; (C) bees are first trained on simple patterns; and (D) tested on camouflaged patterns.
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Figure 2: Investigation of “top-down” processing in honeybees. Adapted from Zhang and Srinivasan (1994). (A) Experimental setup; (B) bees are trained and tested directly on camouflaged patterns; (C) bees are first trained on simple patterns; and (D) tested on camouflaged patterns.

Mentions: Zhang and Srinivasan (1994) approached this question by investigating whether bees are able to use prior experience to facilitate the detection of objects and discrimination of their shapes. They first attempted to train bees to distinguish between two shapes – a ring and a disk – when each shape was presented in a camouflaged fashion as a textured figure, positioned 6 cm in front of a similarly textured background in a Y-maze (Figures 2A,B). It turned out that bees were unable to learn to make this discrimination, despite lengthy training incorporating over 100 rewards per bee. Next, Zhang and Srinivasan examined whether bees could learn to distinguish the camouflaged patterns if they were first trained on a related, but simpler task: that of distinguishing between a black ring and a black disk, each presented 6 cm in front of a white background. The ring and the disk were of the same size and shape as their textured counterparts, and their spatial configuration in relation to the background was identical to that in the previous experiment. The bees were able to learn this new task (Figure 2C). When these pre-trained bees were tested on the task of Figure 2B, they could distinguish between the patterns almost immediately (Figure 2D). Although the figures in Figure 2D are camouflaged, they can be detected by virtue of the relative motion between the images of the figure and the more distant background, as the bee approaches the figure. Evidently, the bees were able to learn to use this motion parallax as a cue to break the camouflage – but only after they had been pre-trained on uncamouflaged versions of the same shapes.


Visually guided decision making in foraging honeybees.

Zhang S, Si A, Pahl M - Front Neurosci (2012)

Investigation of “top-down” processing in honeybees. Adapted from Zhang and Srinivasan (1994). (A) Experimental setup; (B) bees are trained and tested directly on camouflaged patterns; (C) bees are first trained on simple patterns; and (D) tested on camouflaged patterns.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3376410&req=5

Figure 2: Investigation of “top-down” processing in honeybees. Adapted from Zhang and Srinivasan (1994). (A) Experimental setup; (B) bees are trained and tested directly on camouflaged patterns; (C) bees are first trained on simple patterns; and (D) tested on camouflaged patterns.
Mentions: Zhang and Srinivasan (1994) approached this question by investigating whether bees are able to use prior experience to facilitate the detection of objects and discrimination of their shapes. They first attempted to train bees to distinguish between two shapes – a ring and a disk – when each shape was presented in a camouflaged fashion as a textured figure, positioned 6 cm in front of a similarly textured background in a Y-maze (Figures 2A,B). It turned out that bees were unable to learn to make this discrimination, despite lengthy training incorporating over 100 rewards per bee. Next, Zhang and Srinivasan examined whether bees could learn to distinguish the camouflaged patterns if they were first trained on a related, but simpler task: that of distinguishing between a black ring and a black disk, each presented 6 cm in front of a white background. The ring and the disk were of the same size and shape as their textured counterparts, and their spatial configuration in relation to the background was identical to that in the previous experiment. The bees were able to learn this new task (Figure 2C). When these pre-trained bees were tested on the task of Figure 2B, they could distinguish between the patterns almost immediately (Figure 2D). Although the figures in Figure 2D are camouflaged, they can be detected by virtue of the relative motion between the images of the figure and the more distant background, as the bee approaches the figure. Evidently, the bees were able to learn to use this motion parallax as a cue to break the camouflage – but only after they had been pre-trained on uncamouflaged versions of the same shapes.

Bottom Line: The trained animals learn how to solve a task, and do so with a high accuracy, but when they are presented with a new variation of the task, they apply the learnt rules from the earlier setup to the new situation, and solve the new task as well.Honeybees therefore not only feature a rich behavioral repertoire to choose from, but also make decisions most apt to the current situation.The experiments in this review give an insight into the environmental cues and cognitive resources that are probably highly significant for a forager bee that must continually make decisions regarding patches of resources to be exploited.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Centre of Excellence in Vision Science, Research School of Biology, The Australian National University Canberra, ACT, Australia.

ABSTRACT
Honeybees can easily be trained to perform different types of discrimination tasks under controlled laboratory conditions. This review describes a range of experiments carried out with free-flying forager honeybees under such conditions. The research done over the past 30 or so years suggests that cognitive abilities (learning and perception) in insects are more intricate and flexible than was originally imagined. It has become apparent that honeybees are capable of a variety of visually guided tasks, involving decision making under challenging situations: this includes simultaneously making use of different sensory modalities, such as vision and olfaction, and learning to use abstract concepts such as "sameness" and "difference." Many studies have shown that decision making in foraging honeybees is highly flexible. The trained animals learn how to solve a task, and do so with a high accuracy, but when they are presented with a new variation of the task, they apply the learnt rules from the earlier setup to the new situation, and solve the new task as well. Honeybees therefore not only feature a rich behavioral repertoire to choose from, but also make decisions most apt to the current situation. The experiments in this review give an insight into the environmental cues and cognitive resources that are probably highly significant for a forager bee that must continually make decisions regarding patches of resources to be exploited.

No MeSH data available.