Honeybee Brains Can Process Complex Visual Cues, Study
May 14, 2012
Researchers have discovered that although honeybees do not possess large primate brains, they can still process high-level cognitive tasks and solve complex visual problems.
AsianScientist (May 14, 2012) – An international research team has discovered that although honeybees do not possess large primate brains, they can still process high-level cognitive tasks and solve complex visual problems.
The research, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, hold important implications for our understanding of how cognitive capacities for viewing complex images evolved in brains, said study author Dr. Adrian Dyer from RMIT University.
Rule learning is a fundamental cognitive task that allows humans to operate in complex environments, explained Dyer.
“For example, if a driver wants to turn right at an intersection then they need to simultaneously observe the traffic light color, the flow of oncoming cars and pedestrians to make a decision,” he said.
With experience, human brains can conduct these complex decision-making processes, but this is a type of cognitive task beyond current machine vision.
The researchers wanted to understand if such simultaneous decision making required a large primate brain, or whether a honeybee might also demonstrate rule learning.
To do so, lead author Dr. Aurore Avargues-Weber from the Université de Toulouse in France trained individual honeybees to fly into a Y-shaped maze which presented different elements in specific relationships like above/below, or left/right.
With extended training the bees were able to learn that the elements had to have two sets of rules including being in a specific relationship like above/below, while also possessing elements differing from each other.
The findings, which showed that possessing a large complex brain as found in humans was not necessary to master multiple simultaneous conceptual rule learning, may someday lead to new machines that possess artificial vision.
The article can be found at: Avarguès-Weber A et al. (2012) Simultaneous mastering of two abstract concepts by the miniature brain of bees.
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