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Trends Cogn Sci. 2001 Feb 1;5(2):62-71.

Cognitive architecture of a mini-brain: the honeybee.

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Department Neurobiologie, Freie Universität Berlin, Königin-Luise-Str 28/30, 14195, Berlin, Germany


Honeybees have small brains, but their behavioural repertoire is impressive. In this article we focus on the extent to which adaptive behaviour in honeybees exceeds elementary forms of learning. We use the concept of modularity of cognitive functions to characterize levels of complexity in the honeybee brain. We show that behavioural complexity in the honeybee cannot be explained by independent functions of vertically arranged, domain-specific processing modules, but requires horizontal integration in a central state, and we identify neural mechanisms that may underlie domain-specific processing and central integration. The honeybee may serve as a useful model for the study of intermediate levels of complexity in cognitive functions and the search for their neural substrates.

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