Serial position learning in honeybees.
ABSTRACT: Learning of stimulus sequences is considered as a characteristic feature of episodic memory since it contains not only a particular item but also the experience of preceding and following events. In sensorimotor tasks resembling navigational performance, the serial order of objects is intimately connected with spatial order. Mammals and birds develop episodic(-like) memory in serial spatio-temporal tasks, and the honeybee learns spatio-temporal order when navigating between the nest and a food source. Here I examine the structure of the bees' memory for a combined spatio-temporal task. I ask whether discrimination and generalization are based solely on simple forms of stimulus-reward learning or whether they require sequential configurations. Animals were trained to fly either left or right in a continuous T-maze. The correct choice was signaled by the sequence of colors (blue, yellow) at four positions in the access arm. If only one of the possible 4 signals is shown (either blue or yellow), the rank order of position salience is 1, 2 and 3 (numbered from T-junction). No learning is found if the signal appears at position 4. If two signals are shown, differences at positions 1 and 2 are learned best, those at position 3 at a low level, and those at position 4 not at all. If three or more signals are shown these results are corroborated. This salience rank order again appeared in transfer tests, but additional configural phenomena emerged. Most of the results can be explained with a simple model based on the assumption that the four positions are equipped with different salience scores and that these add up independently. However, deviations from the model are interpreted by assuming stimulus configuration of sequential patterns. It is concluded that, under the conditions chosen, bees rely most strongly on memories developed during simple forms of associative reward learning, but memories of configural serial patterns contribute, too.
PROVIDER: S-EPMC2649506 | BioStudies |