Learning, Memory, Ants


Ant Feeding on Immigrant Green Leaf Weevil

Behaviorists divide the learning process into three steps:  1) Reception of the information,  2) Storage of the information in the brain and 3) Retrieval of the information. Studies have shown that most animals learn faster if information is received through multiple sensory pathways. For example, humans learn to recognize the sound of a voice faster if the voice is presented along with a visual of the person speaking. Students learn audio faster from an audio with associated visuals than from audio alone. The learning process is accelerated if multiple senses are involved.

Ants can learn to recognize food by both odor and visual cues. Ants can learn either odor or visual cues much faster if presented with both together than with either alone. That is, an ant trained to respond to visual + odor cues will learn to respond to the odor cue given alone faster than if it is trained only using odor. If ants are consistently trained using a combination of a visual cue and an odor cue, eventually the ants will learn to ignore the odor cue if presented alone.

Odor and vision are processed in different lobes of the ant brain and the human brain. These memories, stored in different parts of the brain, can be combined in the information retrieval process. Understanding how learning and memory function in tiny insect brains can yield clues to the function of much larger and more complex brains.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is a retired Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in behavior, by jjneal. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Learning, Memory, Ants

  1. Pingback: Learning, Memory, Ants – Entomo Planet

  2. Anonymous says:

    Could you please add your references?

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