Researchers have identified how the bee brain uses multiple rules to process visual problems. This breakthrough could help improve robotic vision.
The study co-author, Adrian Dyer of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University, Australia, said that rule learning was a fundamental cognitive task that allowed humans to operate in complex environments.
"For example, if a driver wants to turn right at an intersection, then he or she needs to simultaneously observe the traffic light colour, the flow of oncoming cars and pedestrians to make a decision," Dyer said, the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports.
"With experience, our brains can conduct these complex decision-making processes, but this is a type of cognitive task beyond current machine (robot) vision," adds Dyer, according to an RMIT statement.
"Our research collaboration between labs in Australia and France wanted to understand if such simultaneous decision making required a large primate brain, or whether a honeybee might also demonstrate rule learning," adds Dyer.
According to Dyer, Aurore Avargues-Weber of the Universite de Toulouse, France, who led the study, trained individual honeybees to fly into a Y-shaped maze which presented different elements in specific relationships such as above/below, or left/right.
With extended training, the bees were able to learn that the elements had to have two sets of rules including being in a specific relationship like above/below, while also possessing elements differing from each other.
Dyer said the findings showed that possessing a large complex brain was not necessary to master multiple simultaneous conceptual rule learning.