Heritable cognitive phenotypes influence appetitive learning but not extinction in honey bees

Eda Sezen, Emily Dereszkiewicz, Alvin Hozan, Meghan M. Bennett, Cahit Ozturk, Brian H. Smith, Chelsea N. Cook

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Learning and attention allow animals to better navigate complex environments. While foraging, honey bees (Apis mellifera L.) learn several aspects of their foraging environment, such as color and odor of flowers, which likely begins to happen before they evaluate the quality of the food. If bees begin to evaluate quality before they taste food, and then learn the food is depleted, this may create a conflict in what the bee learns and remembers. Individual honey bees differ in their sensitivity to information, thus creating variation in how they learn or do not learn certain environmental stimuli. For example, foraging honey bees exhibit differences in latent inhibition (LI), a learning process through which regular encounter with a stimulus without a consequence such as food can later reduce conditioning to that stimulus. Here, we test whether bees from distinct selected LI genotypes learn differently if reinforced via just antennae or via both antennae + proboscis. We also evaluate whether learned information goes extinct at different rates in these distinct LI genetic lines. We find that high LI bees learned significantly better when they were reinforced both antenna + proboscis, while low LI and control bees learned similarly with the two reinforcement pathways. We also find no differences in the acquisition and extinction of learned information in high LI and low LI bees. Our work provides insight into how underlying cognition may influence how honey bees learn and value information, which may lead to differences in how individuals and colonies make foraging decisions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)606-613
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of the Entomological Society of America
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2021


  • Cognition
  • Foraging
  • Honey bees
  • Learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Insect Science


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