Saturday, 6 February 2010

Central Beekeepers Alliance : Bees Can Learn to Recognize Faces

Central Beekeepers Alliance : Bees Can Learn to Recognize Faces

Bees Can Learn to Recognize Faces

Posted: 06 Feb 2010 05:00 AM PST

Bees can be trained to recognize human faces, so long as the insects are tricked into thinking that the faces are oddly shaped flowers, new research shows. The insects use the arrangement of facial features to recognize and distinguish one face from another.

Bees recognize human faces using feature configuration. ScienceDaily.

First, the researchers used an arrangement of dots and dashes to represent the eyes, nose and mouth of the human face, and demonstrated that bees could learn to tell the difference between a face-like arrangement and a non-face-like arrangement. The bees learned to recognize the arrangement of features that makes up a face, and to associate a visit to that arrangement with a sugar reward, while non-face arrangements gave no reward.

But how robust was the bees’ ability to process the 'face’s' visual information? How would the bees cope with more complex faces? This time the team embedded the stick and dot faces in face-shaped photographs. Would the bees be able to learn the arrangements of the features against the backgrounds yet recognise the same stick and dot face when the face photo was removed? Amazingly the insects did, and when the team tried scrambling real faces by moving the relative positions of the eyes, nose and mouth, the bees no longer recognised the images as faces and treated them like unknown patterns.

Bees Recognise Faces Using Feature Configuration by Kathryn Knight
Journal of Experimental Biology 213, i (2010)

Bees Can Learn to Recognize Faces comes from the Central Beekeepers Alliance of New Brunswick, Canada. For more information on Honey Bees and Beekeeping, please: * Visit * Subscribe to our RSS feed * Get free updates by e-mail

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