Numerical cognition in honeybees enables addition and subtraction

Howard, S, Avargues-Weber, A, Garcia Mendoza, J, Greentree, A and Dyer, A 2019, 'Numerical cognition in honeybees enables addition and subtraction', Science Advances, vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 1-6.


Document type: Journal Article
Collection: Journal Articles

Title Numerical cognition in honeybees enables addition and subtraction
Author(s) Howard, S
Avargues-Weber, A
Garcia Mendoza, J
Greentree, A
Dyer, A
Year 2019
Journal name Science Advances
Volume number 5
Issue number 2
Start page 1
End page 6
Total pages 6
Publisher American Association for the Advancement of Science (A A A S)
Abstract Many animals understand numbers at a basic level for use in essential tasks such as foraging, shoaling, and resource management. However, complex arithmetic operations, such as addition and subtraction, using symbols and/or labeling have only been demonstrated in a limited number of nonhuman vertebrates. We show that honeybees, with a miniature brain, can learn to use blue and yellow as symbolic representations for addition or subtraction. In a free-flying environment, individual bees used this information to solve unfamiliar problems involving adding or subtracting one element from a group of elements. This display of numerosity requires bees to acquire long-term rules and use short-term working memory. Given that honeybees and humans are separated by over 400 million years of evolution, our findings suggest that advanced numerical cognition may be more accessible to nonhuman animals than previously suspected.
Subject Animal Behaviour
Keyword(s) Complex arithmetic
Non-human animals
Numerical cognition
Resource management
Short term
Symbolic representation
Working memory
DOI - identifier 10.1126/sciadv.aav0961
Copyright notice Copyright © 2019 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government. Works. Distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial License 4.0 (CC BY-NC).
ISSN 2375-2548
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