Route learning by insects

Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2003 Dec;13(6):718-25. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2003.10.004.


Ants and other insects often follow fixed routes from their nest to a foraging site. The shape of an ant's route is set, initially, by navigational strategies, such as path integration and the ant's innate responses to landmarks, which depend minimally on memory. With increasing experience, these early routes are stabilised through the learning of views of landmarks and of associated actions. The substitution of memory-based strategies makes an insect's route more robust and precise. The ability to select between different learnt routes might incur additional memory requirements to those needed for performing a route, and lead to the associative grouping of those memories that relate to a particular route.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Conditioning, Psychological / physiology*
  • Insecta / physiology*
  • Space Perception / physiology*