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Bumble bees display cross-modal object recognition between visual and tactile senses

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Science  21 Feb 2020:
Vol. 367, Issue 6480, pp. 910-912
DOI: 10.1126/science.aay8064
  • Fig. 1 Cross-modal recognition in bumble bees.

    (A and B) Setups for training and testing. Bumble bees were trained to find 50% sucrose solution in one of two differently shaped objects (sphere or cube) in one setup and then tested in the other. (A) In the dark setup, bees entered a dark arena and found two Petri dishes containing four spheres each and two Petri dishes containing four cubes each. (B) In the lighted setup, bees found the same objects, but placed under the Petri dishes so that the bees could see but not touch the objects. Bees accessed the reinforcement solution (rewarding sucrose solution or aversive quinine solution) through small holes in the top of each shape. (C and D) After being trained in the dark, bumble bees that were tested in the dark [(C) uni-modal] or in the light [(D) cross-modal] spent more time in contact with the previously rewarding object. (E and F) Similarly, after being trained in the light, bumble bees that were tested in the light [(E) uni-modal] or in the dark [(F) cross-modal] spent more time in contact with the previously rewarding object. Bars indicate mean; vertical lines indicate SEM; open circles indicate individual bees’ data points (random x axis displacement for individual discernment).

  • Fig. 2 Bumble bees were unable to see in the dark experimental conditions.

    (A) Setup for testing in control experiments. Bumble bees had no tactile information regarding the objects during these tests in the dark. (B and C) After being trained in the light (Fig. 1B) or in the dark (Fig. 1A), bumble bees that were tested in the dark, while not being able to touch the objects, had no difference in the amount of time they were in contact with the two different objects. Bars indicate mean; vertical lines indicate SEM; open circles indicate individual bees’ data points (random x axis displacement for individual discernment).

Supplementary Materials

  • Bumble bees display cross-modal object recognition between visual and tactile senses

    Cwyn Solvi, Selene Gutierrez Al-Khudhairy, Lars Chittka

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    Correction (3 March 2020): On page 10, it now correctly states that a generalized linear mixed-effect model (GLMM) was performed, not a Fischer's exact test. This correction does not change any results or interpretations.
    The original version is accessible here.

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