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 September 16, 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 September 16, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

AP (Sep. 15, 2014) The FDA is considering whether to ban devices used by the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Canton, Massachusetts, the only place in the country known to use electrical skin shocks as aversive conditioning for aggressive patients. (Sept. 15) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Newsy (Sep. 13, 2014) A U.K. survey found that journalists consumed the most amount of coffee, but that's only the tip of the coffee-related statistics iceberg. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) In a small study, researchers found that the majority of long-time smokers quit after taking psilocybin pills and undergoing therapy sessions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Fat Shaming' Might Actually Cause Weight Gain

'Fat Shaming' Might Actually Cause Weight Gain

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) A study for University College London suggests obese people who are discriminated against gain more weight than those who are not. 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
from the past week

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