Natural Rationality | decision-making in the economy of nature


Dimensions of Cognition in an Insect, the Honeybee

Menzel, Randolf, Giurfa, Martin
Dimensions of Cognition in an Insect, the Honeybee
Behav Cogn Neurosci Rev 2006 5: 24-40

Randolf Menzel
Freie Universität Berlin

Martin Giurfa

Université–CNRS Paul Sabatier

This review provides evidence for the enormous richness of insect behavior, its high flexibility, and the cross-talk between different behavioral routines. The memory structure established by multiple forms of learning represents sensory inputs and relates behaviors in such a way that representations of complex environmental conditions are formed. Navigation and communication in social hymenoptera are particularly telling examples in this respect, but it is fair to conclude that similar integrated forms of dealing with the environment will be found in other insects when they are studied more closely. In this sense, research addressing behavioral complexity and its underlying neural substrates is necessary to characterize the real potential of insect learning and memory. Usually, such an approach has been used to characterize behavioral simplicity rather than complexity. It seems therefore timely to focus on the latter by studying problem solving alongside and in addition to elemental forms of learning.