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Bees' colour vision: lessons from understanding visual capabilities and cognition possible with the mini brain.

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To help understand visual cognition it is useful to know how animals with very small brains solve visual problems. Bumblebees and honeybees were therefore tested with a variety of colour discrimination tasks, and the results compared to existing data for human perception. Bees demonstrated speed-accuracy tradeoffs when visual tasks varied in perceptual difficulty. This indicates a sophisticated and dynamic decision making process in bees that has a remarkable similarity to that previously reported for human decision making. We also observed that colour discrimination capabilities in bees are very similar to that of humans, and like humans bee discrimination is impaired by successive display conditions. Furthermore, mapping of bee successive discrimination shows a function that helps explain why plants have evolved distinctively coloured flowers. The findings show both that sophisticated decision making, and high levels of colour discrimination, can be achieved with a brain that has approximately 0.01% of the number of neurons as the human brain.

This talk is part of the Craik Club series.

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