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Naturwissenschaften. 2004 May;91(5):228-31. Epub 2004 Apr 23.

Conditioning procedure and color discrimination in the honeybee Apis mellifera.

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  • 1Centre de Recherches sur la Cognition Animale, CNRS-Universit√© Paul Sabatier (UMR 5169), 118 route de Narbonne, 31062 Toulouse cedex 4, France.


We studied the influence of the conditioning procedure on color discrimination by free-flying honeybees. We asked whether absolute and differential conditioning result in different discrimination capabilities for the same pairs of colored targets. In absolute conditioning, bees were rewarded on a single color; in differential conditioning, bees were rewarded on the same color but an alternative, non-rewarding, similar color was also visible. In both conditioning procedures, bees learned their respective task and could also discriminate the training stimulus from a novel stimulus that was perceptually different from the trained one. Discrimination between perceptually closer stimuli was possible after differential conditioning but not after absolute conditioning. Differences in attention inculcated by these training procedures may underlie the different discrimination performances of the bees.

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