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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.


What to do where and when. Results of the transfer tests in the neutral location. (A) Transfer test 2 with yellow and blue training patterns. The bees preferred the yellow vertical stimulus in the morning, and the blue horizontal stimulus in the afternoon. (B) Transfer test 3 with yellow and blue patterns in the same orientation. The bees preferred the yellow stimulus in the morning, and the blue stimulus in the afternoon. (C) Transfer test 4 with black patterns. The bees preferred the vertical grating in the morning, and the horizontal grating in the afternoon. n Denotes number of individual bees in each test; bars are means ± SEM. ***Denotes p < 0.001. Modified from Pahl et al. (2007).
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Figure 14: What to do where and when. Results of the transfer tests in the neutral location. (A) Transfer test 2 with yellow and blue training patterns. The bees preferred the yellow vertical stimulus in the morning, and the blue horizontal stimulus in the afternoon. (B) Transfer test 3 with yellow and blue patterns in the same orientation. The bees preferred the yellow stimulus in the morning, and the blue stimulus in the afternoon. (C) Transfer test 4 with black patterns. The bees preferred the vertical grating in the morning, and the horizontal grating in the afternoon. n Denotes number of individual bees in each test; bars are means ± SEM. ***Denotes p < 0.001. Modified from Pahl et al. (2007).

Mentions: Pahl et al. (2007) further investigated how bees use context cues to separate conflicting stimuli, in order to produce efficient foraging behavior. To study how the color, shape, and location of stimuli could be memorized within a time frame, bees were trained to forage at two Y-mazes at equal distances, but in different directions, from the hive. Maze A presented blue horizontal (rewarded) vs vertical gratings in the afternoon, while maze B presented yellow vertical (rewarded) vs horizontal gratings in the morning (the stimuli are shown in Figure 14). The bees quickly learned to fly to the active maze at the right time, and chose the rewarded stimulus with an accuracy of about 83%. With this as a baseline, several transfer tests were carried out, in which color and shape properties of the stimuli were removed, and the location of the test maze was changed systematically. In this way, the relative importance of different stimulus properties could be investigated. During training, the bees memorized information about the color and shape of stimuli, but also about the location of the maze and the time of day when it provided a reward. In transfer test 1 in the mazes’ original locations A and B, the color cues were removed by presenting the bees with black-and-white gratings. The bees chose the previously rewarded grating orientations without the color cue, according to the maze location, and the time of day, in about 75% of the visits. In the next step, the location cue was removed by dismantling mazes A and B, and setting up a new maze at a neutral point C between the training mazes. When the bees visited the new maze and the training stimulus configuration was presented (transfer test 2, Figure 14A), the foragers chose the yellow vertical grating in the morning and the blue horizontal stimulus in the afternoon with an accuracy of 83%. In transfer test 3, the orientation and location cues were eliminated by presenting the bees with vertical blue and yellow gratings in the morning, and horizontal blue and yellow gratings in the afternoon. The bees chose the color according to the time of day, with high accuracy of about 91% (Figure 14B). In the last test, color and location cues were removed by presenting black gratings in the neutral maze C. In this situation, the bees chose the orientation according to the time of day, at a frequency of correct choices of about 72%.


Visually guided decision making in foraging honeybees.

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

What to do where and when. Results of the transfer tests in the neutral location. (A) Transfer test 2 with yellow and blue training patterns. The bees preferred the yellow vertical stimulus in the morning, and the blue horizontal stimulus in the afternoon. (B) Transfer test 3 with yellow and blue patterns in the same orientation. The bees preferred the yellow stimulus in the morning, and the blue stimulus in the afternoon. (C) Transfer test 4 with black patterns. The bees preferred the vertical grating in the morning, and the horizontal grating in the afternoon. n Denotes number of individual bees in each test; bars are means ± SEM. ***Denotes p < 0.001. Modified from Pahl et al. (2007).
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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

Figure 14: What to do where and when. Results of the transfer tests in the neutral location. (A) Transfer test 2 with yellow and blue training patterns. The bees preferred the yellow vertical stimulus in the morning, and the blue horizontal stimulus in the afternoon. (B) Transfer test 3 with yellow and blue patterns in the same orientation. The bees preferred the yellow stimulus in the morning, and the blue stimulus in the afternoon. (C) Transfer test 4 with black patterns. The bees preferred the vertical grating in the morning, and the horizontal grating in the afternoon. n Denotes number of individual bees in each test; bars are means ± SEM. ***Denotes p < 0.001. Modified from Pahl et al. (2007).
Mentions: Pahl et al. (2007) further investigated how bees use context cues to separate conflicting stimuli, in order to produce efficient foraging behavior. To study how the color, shape, and location of stimuli could be memorized within a time frame, bees were trained to forage at two Y-mazes at equal distances, but in different directions, from the hive. Maze A presented blue horizontal (rewarded) vs vertical gratings in the afternoon, while maze B presented yellow vertical (rewarded) vs horizontal gratings in the morning (the stimuli are shown in Figure 14). The bees quickly learned to fly to the active maze at the right time, and chose the rewarded stimulus with an accuracy of about 83%. With this as a baseline, several transfer tests were carried out, in which color and shape properties of the stimuli were removed, and the location of the test maze was changed systematically. In this way, the relative importance of different stimulus properties could be investigated. During training, the bees memorized information about the color and shape of stimuli, but also about the location of the maze and the time of day when it provided a reward. In transfer test 1 in the mazes’ original locations A and B, the color cues were removed by presenting the bees with black-and-white gratings. The bees chose the previously rewarded grating orientations without the color cue, according to the maze location, and the time of day, in about 75% of the visits. In the next step, the location cue was removed by dismantling mazes A and B, and setting up a new maze at a neutral point C between the training mazes. When the bees visited the new maze and the training stimulus configuration was presented (transfer test 2, Figure 14A), the foragers chose the yellow vertical grating in the morning and the blue horizontal stimulus in the afternoon with an accuracy of 83%. In transfer test 3, the orientation and location cues were eliminated by presenting the bees with vertical blue and yellow gratings in the morning, and horizontal blue and yellow gratings in the afternoon. The bees chose the color according to the time of day, with high accuracy of about 91% (Figure 14B). In the last test, color and location cues were removed by presenting black gratings in the neutral maze C. In this situation, the bees chose the orientation according to the time of day, at a frequency of correct choices of about 72%.

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.