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same difference

Honeybees are capable of cognitive performances thought to occur only in vertebrates.

Kenneth Lee(kenlee_fr@yahoo.fr)

In the 19 April Nature Martin Giurfa and colleagues at the Freie Universität Berlin, Germany, show that honeybees can master abstract inter-relationships, such as the concepts of 'sameness' and 'difference' (Nature 2001, 410:930-933).

Bees were trained to enter a Y-shaped maze through a hole at the base of the Y, where they encountered a sample stimulus. The bees then had to choose between the two arms of the Y, each carrying a secondary stimulus, one of which was identical to the sample stimulus. A bee was rewarded with a sucrose solution only if it chose a secondary stimulus that matched the sample stimulus. Giurfa et al found that bees not only learnt to match colours (p<0.0001), but that they could transfer that learning to match other stimuli, such as orientations of black and white patterns (p<0.0005). Bees trained to match patterns were also...

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