Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Bees Solve Complex Colour Puzzles

Date:
November 8, 2005
Source:
University College London
Summary:
Bees have a much more sophisticated visual system than previously thought, according to a new University College London study in which bees were able to solve complicated colour puzzles. The findings shed light on how brains resolve one of the most difficult challenges of vision – namely, recognizing different surfaces under different colours of illumination.

Bees have a much more sophisticated visual system than previously thought, according to a new UCL (University College London) study in which bees were able to solve complicated colour puzzles. The findings shed light on how brains resolve one of the most difficult challenges of vision – namely, recognizing different surfaces under different colours of illumination – by suggesting that bees solve this problem using their experience with meaningful colour relationships between objects in a scene. The findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, may one day lead to the design of autonomous robotic systems.

Related Articles


In the UCL study, scientists from the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology trained bumblebees to find artificial flowers of a particular colour using a nectar reward. They then tested the bees' ability to find the same flowers in scenes that were simultaneously illuminated by four differently coloured lights – UV-yellow, blue, yellow and green. To solve this puzzle, the bees had to effectively segment the scene into its different regions of illumination, and then find the correct flowers within each region.

Dr Beau Lotto of the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology says: "Although we knew that bees were able to recognise flowers under different global lights, we didn't know whether they could also do this under more complicated conditions, ones that are in fact more typical in nature, such as dappled light across a woodland floor.

"When all the surfaces in a scene are under the same light, identifying a particular surface when the global illumination changes is in principle an easy problem to solve, since all vision needs to do is adapt itself to the scene's average colour, a bit like adapting to the darkness of a cinema. Far more difficult is to recognise the surface or object under multiple lights simultaneously, since adapting to the scene's average colour – which was previously thought to be the strategy used by bees – won't work."

"Our study shows that the tiny brain of the bee can not only solve this difficult task, which the most sophisticated computers still can't resolve, but suggests they do so by using the colour relationships between objects in a scene that were statistically most useful in their past experience. Because this same strategy is also used by humans, our work on bees, in conjunction with our work on humans, may enable us to understand the general principles by which any visual system (natural or artificial) can construct useful behaviour from ambiguous sensory information.

'One long-term aim of our research is to exploit this understanding to build seeing robots that, like the bee with its mere one million neurons, can learn to find a simple flower in a meadow, which no machine can do at present. Our lab has reconstructed our specially designed bee flight arena – known as the Bee Matrix – in the virtual world, where virtual autonomous bees are 'evolving' under exactly the same conditions as those experienced by our real bees."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University College London. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University College London. "Bees Solve Complex Colour Puzzles." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 November 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/11/051108081637.htm>.
University College London. (2005, November 8). Bees Solve Complex Colour Puzzles. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/11/051108081637.htm
University College London. "Bees Solve Complex Colour Puzzles." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/11/051108081637.htm (accessed October 30, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How A Chorus Led Scientists To A New Frog Species

How A Chorus Led Scientists To A New Frog Species

Newsy (Oct. 30, 2014) A frog noticed by a conservationist on New York's Staten Island has been confirmed as a new species after extensive study and genetic testing. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Surfer Accidentally Stands on Shark, Gets Bitten

Surfer Accidentally Stands on Shark, Gets Bitten

AP (Oct. 30, 2014) A 20-year-old competition surfer said on Thursday he accidentally stepped on a shark's head before it bit him off the Australian east coast. (Oct. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Endangered Carpathian Ponies Are Making a Comeback in Poland

Endangered Carpathian Ponies Are Making a Comeback in Poland

AFP (Oct. 29, 2014) At the foot of the rugged Carpathian mountains near the Polish-Ukrainian border, ranchers and scientists are trying to protect the Carpathian pony, known as the Hucul in Polish. Duration: 02:17 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tiny, Lab-Grown Stomachs Could Treat Stomach Diseases

Tiny, Lab-Grown Stomachs Could Treat Stomach Diseases

Newsy (Oct. 29, 2014) The researchers grew tiny stomachs using stem cells, saying the research could lead to better treatment for ulcers and even stomach cancer. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins