Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Common scents: Honeybees guide neurological discoveries

Date:
February 18, 2010
Source:
University of Queensland
Summary:
Every moment of every day the brain is forced to process thousands of separate odorants from the world around us. Through a new study of honeybees, scientists have discovered the brain has an advanced ability to isolate specific odors and recollect smells.

Honeybee visiting a flower. Through a new study of honeybees, scientists at UQ's Queensland Brain Institute have discovered the brain has an advanced ability to isolate specific odours and recollect smells.
Credit: iStockphoto

Every moment of every day the brain is forced to process thousands of separate odorants from the world around us.

Through a new study of honeybees, scientists at UQ's Queensland Brain Institute have discovered the brain has an advanced ability to isolate specific odours and recollect smells.

"There's a lot of information coming into the brain whenever a scent is detected and it would be difficult to process it all," lead researcher Dr Judith Reinhard said.

"We've found that honeybees pick only a handful of so-called 'key odorants' out of every complex aroma that they really learn. They may remember just two or three odorants from a couple of hundred, the rest are ignored."

Colleague Dr Charles Claudianos said if you had to learn the hundreds of compounds your brain would be overwhelmed with information.

"By choosing the key odorants, you can function more effectively without being swamped," Dr Charles Claudianos said.

The research, published in the latest edition of PLoS ONE, has also allowed the scientists to explore how the learning of odours affects molecules that have been linked to autism and schizophrenia. During their studies, the researchers found that the honeybee brain responds to sensory experience.

"The honeybee brain -- like the human brain -- adapts to its sensory environment by adjusting the expression of these molecules," Dr Claudianos said.

Dr Reinhard said the findings could also have an enormous impact on Australian farming. Using the honeybee's capacity to extract key odorants, scientists will be able to isolate these odorants from the complex aromas of crops. They can then use the key odorants to train honeybees to pollinate specific crops.

"Farmers often have problems making honeybees focus on the crop -- the bees go astray and go to nearby forests or national parks and the farmers don't get a good yield," Dr Reinhard said.

"If we know the key odorants of the almond aroma, for example, we could use these to train the honeybees in the hive to focus only on pollinating almonds. Then you'd have a much higher likelihood the honeybees would stay in the crop and pollinate it."

Now the focus for the QBI scientists will be whether humans use the same technique of learning specific key odorants so our brain is not overwhelmed by too much sensory information -- early research suggests we do.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Reinhard et al. Honeybees Learn Odour Mixtures via a Selection of Key Odorants. PLoS ONE, 2010; 5 (2): e9110 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0009110

Cite This Page:

University of Queensland. "Common scents: Honeybees guide neurological discoveries." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 February 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100216225117.htm>.
University of Queensland. (2010, February 18). Common scents: Honeybees guide neurological discoveries. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100216225117.htm
University of Queensland. "Common scents: Honeybees guide neurological discoveries." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100216225117.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Buzz60 (Oct. 21, 2014) Breeze, a portable breathalyzer, gets you home safely by instantly showing your blood alcohol content, and with one tap, lets you call an Uber, a cab or a friend from your contact list to pick you up. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) A new study says the season you're born in can determine your temperament — and one season has a surprising outcome. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Movies Might Desensitize Violence For Parents, Not Just Kids

Movies Might Desensitize Violence For Parents, Not Just Kids

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) A study suggests that parents become desensitized to violent movies as well as children, which leads them to allow their kids to view violent films. 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


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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