Research ArticleCOGNITIVE NEUROSCIENCE

Numerical cognition in honeybees enables addition and subtraction

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Science Advances  06 Feb 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 2, eaav0961
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aav0961
  • Fig. 1 Experimental apparatus used to train and test free-flying bees on their capacity to learn addition and subtraction.

    Apparatus setup for (A) subtraction and (B) addition trials. Diagram shows parts of the Y-maze and the stimuli positions. When the bees view a yellow sample stimulus (A), they must subtract one element from it, and when the bees view a blue sample stimulus (B), they must add one element to it. (Not visible in this diagram is the entrance wall into the first chamber).

  • Fig. 2 Results of the learning and testing phases.

    (A) Performance during the learning phase. Dashed line at 0.5 indicates chance level performance. Solid black line represents a function describing the learning phase of n = 14 bees as modeled by a generalized linear mixed-effect model (GLMM). Points (closed circles) along the curve indicate the observed mean ± 95% confidence intervals (CIs) (purple) of correct choices for the bees. Increase in performance during the learning phase was significant. (B) Performance during the testing phases for addition and subtraction. Pink columns (left) show results when the incorrect answer was in the same direction as the correct answer, and blue column (right) show results when the incorrect answer was in the opposite direction as the correct answer. Numbers under columns (1, 2, 3, and 4) correspond to the operations in the main text. Dashed line at 0.5 indicates chance level performance. Significance from chance level performance is indicated by *P < 0.05, **P < 0.01, and ***P < 0.001. Data shown are means ± 95% CI boundaries for all tests.

Supplementary Materials

  • Supplementary material for this article is available at http://advances.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/5/2/eaav0961/DC1

    Supplementary Materials, Methods, and Results

    Fig. S1. The full set of stimuli used (n = 216) for the addition (blue; n = 108) and subtraction (yellow; n = 108) training and test phases.

    Fig. S2. The Bayesian-determined bias for each of the bees, averaged over nt = 10 trials (except for the first 10 experiments, which were evaluated with respect to all previous experiments).

    Reference (40)

  • Supplementary Materials

    This PDF file includes:

    • Supplementary Materials, Methods, and Results
    • Fig. S1. The full set of stimuli used (n = 216) for the addition (blue; n = 108) and subtraction (yellow; n = 108) training and test phases.
    • Fig. S2. The Bayesian-determined bias for each of the bees, averaged over nt = 10 trials (except for the first 10 experiments, which were evaluated with respect to all previous experiments).
    • Reference (40)

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