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Naturwissenschaften. 2002 Jun;89(6):262-4.

Motivation and vector navigation in honey bees.

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Department of Zoology, Michigan State University, East Lansing 48823, USA.


Animals that forage from a central place can keep track of their displacement relative to home through a process called "path integration." During a study of the stability of homing information over time, we noticed that honey bees held at a feeding place for several hours sometimes headed not in the homeward compass direction on their release, but in the reverse compass direction. This behavior suggested that the path integration system had been reset to a state corresponding to an outward flight to the food. Most models of insect navigation assume that it is the experience of reaching home that resets the path integration system, enabling the activation of vectors appropriate for subsequent outbound foraging trips. Here we provide evidence that this resetting can be influenced by motivational cues associated with food deprivation. The effect of food deprivation is independent of any positional cues provided by familiar landmarks or by experience in traveling toward a goal.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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