Numerical cognition in honeybees: rule learning enables quantity discrimination, zero comprehension, simple arithmetic, and symbol use by an insect

Howard, S 2018, Numerical cognition in honeybees: rule learning enables quantity discrimination, zero comprehension, simple arithmetic, and symbol use by an insect, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Media and Communication, RMIT University.


Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Numerical cognition in honeybees: rule learning enables quantity discrimination, zero comprehension, simple arithmetic, and symbol use by an insect
Author(s) Howard, S
Year 2018
Abstract Many non-human animals demonstrate some level of numerical ability which includes an understanding of complex numerical concepts such as arithmetic, sequential ordering of numbers, or an understanding the concept of zero. Although very little research has been done on numerical ability in invertebrates, honeybees and several other insects have been shown to possess some numerical capabilities. In my thesis, I have assessed the capacity of bees to exhibit complex numeric skills such as number categorisation, extrapolation, and simple arithmetic. I show that the use of appetitive-aversive differential conditioning improves the honeybees' ability to discriminate between quantities above the subitizing range compared to appetitive-differential conditioning. Honeybees have demonstrated an understanding of the quantitative value of nothing and placed an empty set in the correct position along a line of sequential numbers, learnt to categorise numbers as greater or lesser in context, acquired abstract colour-based rules to solve elementary incremental and decremental problems, and demonstrated an ability to match symbols with specific quantities. In some cases, honeybees have mastered numerical concepts at a level that parallels abilities demonstrated by primates, mammals, birds, and other vertebrates. I discuss these findings in relation to how number processing developed in human culture, and how subsequent work can search for number processing regions in animal brains.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Media and Communication
Subjects Neurosciences not elsewhere classified
Communication and Media Studies not elsewhere classified
Numerical and Computational Mathematics not elsewhere classified
Animal Behaviour
Keyword(s) cognition
neurobiology
learning
honeybee
Apis mellifera
numerical
mathematics
perception
arithmetic
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Created: Thu, 07 Feb 2019, 13:02:13 EST by Keely Chapman
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