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The new findings surprised the research team because mushroom bodies are thought to be essential for intelligent control over instinctive behaviors -- similar to the mammalian cerebral cortex.
In the study, HaDi MaBouDi of Queen Mary University of London and colleagues built a realistic computational model of the brain circuits used by bees to process olfactory information. Then, they investigated what would happen if they removed the mushroom body circuits from the simulated bees.
Researchers - Bees - Tasks - Learning - Bees
The researchers tested how well the simulated bees would perform on tasks commonly used to explore learning in real bees. These included tasks in which bees learn to associate different odors with different rewards.
Unexpectedly, the "mutant bees" performed just as well on many (but not all) of the odor learning tasks as do real bees with intact mushroom bodies. They could even learn to associate a mixture of two odors with reward...
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