Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Decision making in bee swarms mimic neurons in human brains

Date:
December 8, 2011
Source:
Cornell University
Summary:
Swarms of bees and brains made up of neurons make decisions using strikingly similar mechanisms, says a new study.

Swarms of bees and brain neurons make decisions using strikingly similar mechanisms.
Credit: Van Truan / Fotolia

Swarms of bees and brain neurons make decisions using strikingly similar mechanisms, reports a new study in the Dec. 9 issue of Science.

In previous work, Cornell University biologist Thomas Seeley clarified how scout bees in a honeybee swarm perform "waggle dances" to prompt other scout bees to inspect a promising site that has been found.

In the new study, Seeley, a professor of neurobiology and behavior, reports with five colleagues in the United States and the United Kingdom that scout bees also use inhibitory "stop signals" -- a short buzz delivered with a head butt to the dancer -- to inhibit the waggle dances produced by scouts advertising competing sites. The strength of the inhibition produced by each group of scouts is proportional to the group's size. This inhibitory signaling helps ensure that only one of the sites is chosen. This is especially important for reaching a decision when two sites are equally good, Seeley said.

Previous research has shown that bees use stop signals to warn nest-mates about such dangers as attacks at a food source. However, this is the first study to show the use of stop signals in house-hunting decisions.

Such use of stop signals in decision making is "analogous to how the nervous system works in complex brains," said Seeley. "The brain has similar cross inhibitory signaling between neurons in decision-making circuits."

Co-authors Patrick Hogan and James Marshall of the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom explored the implications of the bees' cross-inhibitory signaling by modeling their collective decision-making process. Their analysis showed that stop signaling helps bees to break deadlocks between two equally good sites and to avoid costly dithering.

The study was funded by the Cornell Agricultural Experiment Station, the University of California-Riverside and the U.K. Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Thomas D. Seeley, P. Kirk Visscher, Thomas Schlegel, Patrick M. Hogan, Nigel R. Franks, and James A. R. Marshall. Stop Signals Provide Cross Inhibition in Collective Decision-Making by Honeybee Swarms. Science, 8 December 2011 DOI: 10.1126/science.1210361

Cite This Page:

Cornell University. "Decision making in bee swarms mimic neurons in human brains." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 December 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111208142019.htm>.
Cornell University. (2011, December 8). Decision making in bee swarms mimic neurons in human brains. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111208142019.htm
Cornell University. "Decision making in bee swarms mimic neurons in human brains." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111208142019.htm (accessed October 23, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Academic Scandal Shocks UNC

Academic Scandal Shocks UNC

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) A scandal involving bogus classes and inflated grades at the University of North Carolina was bigger than previously reported, a new investigation found. (Oct. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) Feast your eyes on this gorgeous family-friendly resort. Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com
What Your Favorite Color Says About You

What Your Favorite Color Says About You

Buzz60 (Oct. 22, 2014) We all have one color we love to wear, and believe it or not, your color preference may reveal some of your character traits. In celebration of National Color Day, Krystin Goodwin (@kyrstingoodwin) highlights what your favorite colors may say about you. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
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

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:

More Coverage


Decisions, Decisions: House-Hunting Honey Bees Work Like Complex Brains

Dec. 8, 2011 Researchers have found a signal, overlooked until now, that plays a role when honey bees split off from their mother colony and go scouting for a new home. Called the "stop signal," it is a ... read more

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