From Our 2010 Archives

Bees Can Be Trained to Recognize Face-Like Patterns

FRIDAY, Jan. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Bees can learn to recognize human faces, as long as they think the faces are odd-shaped flowers, a new study reports.

In a series of experiments, researchers from Australia and France determined that bees could be trained to recognize face-like patterns when they were rewarded with a sweet treat for doing so.

However, this doesn't mean that bees can learn to recognize individual human faces. Instead, the bees are able to learn the relative arrangements of features that create a face-like pattern, the study authors explained. Bees may use this same strategy to learn about and recognize different objects in their environment.

The study findings are published in the Jan. 29 issue of the Journal of Experimental Biology.

It's amazing that the microdot-sized brain of a bee can achieve this type of image analysis, said the researchers, who noted that humans have entire regions of the brain dedicated to this task. The bees' approach to face recognition may prove useful in the development of facial recognition systems, the study authors suggested.

-- Robert Preidt

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SOURCE: Journal of Experimental Biology, news release, Jan. 29, 2010