Bees can recognise human faces

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Washington, Jan 30 (ANI): A new study has shown that bees can actually recognize human faces by relative arrangement and order of the features.

The research team led by Adrian Dyer from Monash University has found that bees recognize human faces using feature configuration.

For the study, Dyer trained the fascinating insects to associate pictures of human faces with tasty sugar snacks and they seemed to be able to do just that.

Dyer along with Aurore Avargues-Weber decided to test whether the bees could learn to distinguish between simple face-like images.

Using faces that were made up of two dots for eyes, a short vertical dash for a nose and a longer horizontal line for a mouth, Avargues-Weber trained individual bees to distinguish between a face where the features were cramped together and another where the features were set apart.

Having trained the bee to visit one of the two faces by rewarding it with a weak sugar solution, the researchers tested whether it recognised the pattern by taking away the sugar reward and waiting to see if the bee returned to the correct face. It did.

Having trained the bees that 'face-like' images gave them a reward, she showed the bees a completely fresh pair of images that they had not seen before to see if the bees could pick out the face-like picture.

And they did. The bees were able to learn the face images, not because they know what a face is but because they had learned the relative arrangement and order of the features.

When the team tried scrambling real faces by moving the relative positions of the eyes, nose and mouth, the bees no longer recognised the images as faces and treated them like unknown patterns.

So, according to the researchers, bees seem to be able to recognise face-like patterns, but this does not mean that they can learn to recognise individual humans.

They learn the relative arrangements of features that happen to make up a face-like pattern and they may use this strategy to learn about and recognize different objects in their environment.

The study appears in Journal of Experimental Biology. (ANI)

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