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Nat Rev Neurosci. 2012 Nov;13(11):758-68. doi: 10.1038/nrn3357.

The honeybee as a model for understanding the basis of cognition.

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Institute of Biology - Neurobiology, Free University of Berlin, 28/30 K├Ânigin-Luise-Strass, D-14195 Berlin, Germany.


Honeybees contradict the notion that insect behaviour tends to be relatively inflexible and stereotypical. Indeed, they live in colonies and exhibit complex social, navigational and communication behaviours, as well as a relatively rich cognitive repertoire. Because these relatively complex behaviours are controlled by a brain consisting of only 1 million or so neurons, honeybees offer an opportunity to study the relationship between behaviour and cognition in neural networks that are limited in size and complexity. Most recently, the honeybee has been used to model learning and memory formation, highlighting its utility for neuroscience research, in particular for understanding the basis of cognition.

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