Send to

Choose Destination
Curr Biol. 2006 Jul 25;16(14):1471-6.

Lateralization of olfaction in the honeybee Apis mellifera.

Author information

Visual Sciences, Research School of Biological Sciences, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, Australia.


Lateralization of function is a well-known phenomenon in humans. The two hemispheres of the human brain are functionally specialized such that certain cognitive skills, such as language or musical ability, conspecific recognition, and even emotional responses, are mediated by one hemisphere more than the other [1, 2]. Studies over the past 30 years suggest that lateralization occurs in other vertebrate species as well [3-11]. In general, lateralization is observed in different sensory modalities in humans as well as vertebrates, and there are interesting parallels (reviewed in [12]). However, little is known about functional asymmetry in invertebrates [13, 14] and there is only one investigation in insects [15]. Here we show, for the first time, that the honeybee Apis mellifera displays a clear laterality in responding to learned odors. By training honeybees on two different versions of the well-known proboscis extension reflex (PER) paradigm [16, 17], we demonstrate that bees respond to odors better when they are trained through their right antenna. To our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of asymmetrical learning performance in an insect.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center