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Honey Bees Remember Happy and Sad Times, Scientists Discover

The findings demonstrate a link between vertebrate and invertebrate cognition despite the two animal groups diverging in evolutionary terms around 600 million years ago.

ARISTOS GEORGIOU: ‘While the brains of honey bees are tiny compared to those of humans, the insects are capable of some surprisingly advanced thinking. A study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences has now cast new light on the insects’ cognitive abilities.

A team of researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that honey bees can remember positive and negative experiences — such as taking care of their young or fending off an enemy. These memories are then stored in specific areas of their brains, according to how good or bad the experience was.

Scientists have long known that vertebrates—animals with tail bones—like ourselves are capable of storing memories of pleasure and pain in distinct brain areas such as this. However, this has never been documented before in the minds of bees…

According to the scientists, the latest study provides new insight into animal cognition. “These findings can help us better understand ‘biological embedding,’ or how social information ‘gets under the skin’ to affect subsequent behavior,” he said. “Biological embedding is an important issue in understanding health and well-being in humans.”

Furthermore, because the type of memory that the researchers documented is well-established in the brains of vertebrates, the latest findings demonstrate a link between vertebrate and invertebrate cognition despite the two animal groups diverging in evolutionary terms around 600 million years ago’. SOURCE…

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