Bees and Humans Have Memory Lapse

BeesBees can be compared to humans as scientists have seen evidence of  memory lapse behavior. A study at the Queen Mary University found that the bees could be trained to identify food by a certain color flower. The scientists observed the behavior as they were taught to change their association of food from one color flower to another.

The scientists were able to validate the results of  this experiment. After a period of time, the bees were offered a variety of flowers. They returned to the last yellow-colored flower that they had been trained to identify as their food at a rate of 77- 79 percent to most likely occur.

As bees change their preferences, it was concluded that they are defenseless for a memory error to happen. Another conclusion drawn is that the memory system is flexible.

According to The Scientist, it was suspected that memory merging occurs in some other animals, just like humans. However, this was the first time bees have been studied for this kind of behavior. This information is valuable in understanding the nervous system and what commonalities exist.

Researchers have indicated that memory cells are not universal, but are formed differently cell-by cell. Bees are excellent models to study as scientists want to examine the root of such a complex brain in a simpler structure.

Bees have shown that their memories are amazing. They have 960,000 neurons compared to the approximate 85 billion that humans possess. Therefore, their capacity for storage of memory is much smaller.

Another experiment was added to utilize a more complicated set of choices. Bees were given more combinations of colors to determine whether certain patterns were more of an attraction. Additionally, scientists wanted to identify if there were any of the colors affecting memory and learning cues differently.

The result was that the bees long-term memory appeared to mix the two separate events. This can cause memories to form a new false recollection. False recollections occur when an individual remembers an event that may actually have not occurred. The hypothesis behind this idea is that certain animals have a lifestyle that involves processing and recalling memory from multiple stimuli.

Scientists explained that this is what may have happened to Brian Williams. His mind told him about the consequences of flying in a helicopter in a war zone. How Williams retrieved the information is a question that is impacting the truth of his story. That is something science can look at in relationship to mis-memories.

Purposely distorting the recall of events is not difficult. Mice have been used to manipulate specific brain cells to create a false memory. Humans want to pass off events as forgetfulness. Like bees, human behavior mis-remembers, merges, and mixes up things.

Merging errors are made often in people especially when they are asked to recall a familiar face, recall simple sentences, and nonsense words. People, who can easily categorize objects are more likely to have a memory glitch. The problem involves information being moved to long-term memory, not the short-term memory. Some information could be lost in this process.

By Marie A. Wakefield

Sources:

UPI

The Scientists

LA Times

Smithsonian.com

Photo by Pascal Gaudette – License

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