The influence of training length on generalization of visual feature assemblies in honeybees

Behav Brain Res. 2005 Jun 3;161(1):8-17. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2005.02.008. Epub 2005 Mar 16.


Generalization is a fundamental cognitive ability that allows treating similar stimuli as equivalents, and thus responding to them in the same manner. Here, we show that after training free-flying bees with a single, constant pair of patterns made of four quadrants, each displaying different oriented gratings, bees extract the orientation information corresponding to each quadrant and integrate it in a generic layout that preserved the spatial relationship between oriented edges. Our results show that the amount of experience with the training patterns is critical to determine or not generalization to novel stimuli sharing the layout of the rewarded stimulus. Increasing experience results in higher generalization levels reflected in significant responding to novel stimuli. With ongoing training, redundant information seems to be eliminated and reduced to the minimum that is necessary and sufficient to solve the task. Controlling precisely the level of experience of individuals is therefore crucial in experiments on visual recognition.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Bees
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Conditioning, Classical / physiology
  • Discrimination Learning / physiology*
  • Generalization, Psychological / physiology*
  • Generalization, Stimulus
  • Homing Behavior
  • Maze Learning
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Spatial Behavior / physiology
  • Time Factors