(Medical Xpress, Central European University) A new study shows that bees share a capacity for automatically learning the complex statistical properties often experienced in natural environments. Previously this was thought to be a visual capacity only present in humans and higher-level species, and the discovery in bees with a miniature brain inspires further improvements in AI. The study also reports that bees and humans use fundamentally different computational methods for this kind of learning, which might be one of the key reasons why humans’ superior learning abilities emerged.
(New York Times) Just like mammals or birds, insect species of the same size may have different endowments inside their heads. Researchers have discovered some factors linked to brain size in back-boned animals. But in insects, the drivers of brain size have been more of a mystery. A new study has scrutinized hundreds of bee brains for patterns. Bees with specialized diets seem to have larger brains, while social behavior appears unrelated to brain size. This means when it comes to insects, the rules that have guided brain evolution in other animals may not apply.
(The Scientist) French researchers have found that honey bees can remember reward-associated odors three days after a single learning experience. These results differ from the common understanding that insects need to repeat a training experience at least three times to form long-term memories.
(EurekAlert/Cell Press) From birds to bees and wolves to frogs, animals use numbers to hunt, find a mate, return to their home, and more. Honey bees, for example, can remember the number of landmarks they pass when searching for food in order to find their way back to the hive. “The last common ancestor between honey bees and us primates lived about 600 million years ago. But still, they evolved numerical competence that, in many respects, is comparable to vertebrae numerical competence.”
(University of Minnesota) A new study from the University of Minnesota found that deformed wing virus causes a honey bee’s brain to function as though the bee is older than it is. This often leads infected bees to forage prematurely, which can cause diminished spatial memory and colony failure. Additionally, these infected foragers may be more likely to spread the virus to neighboring colonies because of their disoriented state.
(University of Cologne) Zoologists from the University of Cologne have demonstrated that honey bees have the cognitive abilities to perform so called numerosity estimation, allowing them to solve simple mathematical problems using just a single neuron. This could provide a newer, simpler model for machine learning.
(ABC) Humans are one of very few animals known to be able to recognize objects across senses. This ability exists at least partly because we are able to imagine the object in our brain. Researchers from the U.K. and Australia now report they have evidence that bumble bees can also create mental imagery.
(Financial Times) The researchers are carrying out different experiments to “reverse engineer” bee brains with the goal of designing navigational software for future drones. Bees optimize the distances flown from one point to another. Bee brains can multitask, adapt to new scenarios and learn very fast.