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Proc Biol Sci. 2015 Jan 22;282(1799):20142384. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2014.2384.

The forest or the trees: preference for global over local image processing is reversed by prior experience in honeybees.

Author information

1
Centre de Recherches sur la Cognition Animale, Université de Toulouse; UPS, 118 route de Narbonne, Toulouse Cedex 9 31062, France Centre de Recherches sur la Cognition Animale, CNRS, 118 route de Narbonne, Toulouse Cedex 9 31062, France aurore.avargues-weber@univ-tlse3.fr.
2
Department of Physiology, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria 3800, Australia School of Media and Communication, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Melbourne, Victoria 3000, Australia.
3
Department of Physiology, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria 3800, Australia.
4
Centre de Recherches sur la Cognition Animale, Université de Toulouse; UPS, 118 route de Narbonne, Toulouse Cedex 9 31062, France Centre de Recherches sur la Cognition Animale, CNRS, 118 route de Narbonne, Toulouse Cedex 9 31062, France.

Abstract

Traditional models of insect vision have assumed that insects are only capable of low-level analysis of local cues and are incapable of global, holistic perception. However, recent studies on honeybee (Apis mellifera) vision have refuted this view by showing that this insect also processes complex visual information by using spatial configurations or relational rules. In the light of these findings, we asked whether bees prioritize global configurations or local cues by setting these two levels of image analysis in competition. We trained individual free-flying honeybees to discriminate hierarchical visual stimuli within a Y-maze and tested bees with novel stimuli in which local and/or global cues were manipulated. We demonstrate that even when local information is accessible, bees prefer global information, thus relying mainly on the object's spatial configuration rather than on elemental, local information. This preference can be reversed if bees are pre-trained to discriminate isolated local cues. In this case, bees prefer the hierarchical stimuli with the local elements previously primed even if they build an incorrect global configuration. Pre-training with local cues induces a generic attentional bias towards any local elements as local information is prioritized in the test, even if the local cues used in the test are different from the pre-trained ones. Our results thus underline the plasticity of visual processing in insects and provide new insights for the comparative analysis of visual recognition in humans and animals.

KEYWORDS:

Apis mellifera; attention; honeybee; perceptual grouping; priming; vision

PMID:
25473017
PMCID:
PMC4286040
DOI:
10.1098/rspb.2014.2384
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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