Aurore Avargues-Weber

Aurore Avargues-Weber
University of Toulouse · Center of Research on Animal Cognition

PhD

About

74
Publications
25,543
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1,820
Citations
Additional affiliations
January 2011 - December 2012
Queen Mary, University of London
Position
  • PostDoc Position

Publications

Publications (74)
Preprint
Full-text available
The question of whether individuals perform consistently across a variety of cognitive tasks is relevant for studies of comparative cognition. The honey bee ( Apis mellifera ) is an appropriate model to study cognitive consistency as its learning can be studied in multiple elemental and non-elemental learning tasks. We took advantage of this possib...
Article
Full-text available
The COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated the need for the development of fast and reliable testing methods for novel, zoonotic, viral diseases in both humans and animals. Pathologies lead to detectable changes in the volatile organic compound (VOC) profile of animals, which can be monitored, thus allowing the development of a rapid VOC-based test. In...
Article
Full-text available
A frequent question as technology improves and becomes increasingly complex, is how we enable technological solutions and models inspired by biological systems. Creating technology based on humans is challenging and costly as human brains and cognition are complex. The honeybee has emerged as a valuable comparative model which exhibits some cogniti...
Article
Full-text available
Honey bees are reputed for their remarkable visual learning and navigation capabilities. These capacities can be studied in virtual reality (VR) environments, which allow studying performances of tethered animals in stationary flight or walk under full control of the sensory environment. Here, we used a 2D VR setup in which a tethered bee walking s...
Article
Full-text available
Free-flying bees learn efficiently to solve numerous visual tasks. Yet, the neural underpinnings of this capacity remain unexplored. We used a 3D virtual reality (VR) environment to study visual learning and determine if it leads to changes in immediate early gene (IEG) expression in specific areas of the bee brain. We focused on kakusei, Hr38 and...
Article
Full-text available
Angiosperms have evolved to attract and/or deter specific pollinators. Flowers provide signals and cues such as scent, colour, size, pattern, and shape, which allow certain pollinators to more easily find and visit the same type of flower. Over evolutionary time, bees and angiosperms have co-evolved resulting in flowers being more attractive to bee...
Article
Full-text available
Honey bees exhibit remarkable visual learning capacities, which can be studied using virtual reality (VR) landscapes in laboratory conditions. Existing VR environments for bees are imperfect as they provide either open-loop conditions or 2D displays. Here we achieved a true 3D environment in which walking bees learned to discriminate a rewarded fro...
Article
Individuals differing in their cognitive abilities and foraging strategies may confer a valuable benefit to their social groups as variability may help responding flexibly in scenarios with different resource availability. Individual learning proficiency may either be absolute or vary with the complexity or the nature of the problem considered. Det...
Preprint
Full-text available
The COVID19 pandemic has illustrated the need for the development of fast and reliable testing methods for novel, zoonotic, viral diseases in both humans and animals. Pathologies lead to detectable changes in the Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) profile of animals, which can be monitored, thus allowing the development of a rapid VOC-based test. In t...
Article
Full-text available
Most recognition is based on identifying features, but specialization for face recognition in primates relies on a different mechanism, termed ‘holistic processing’ where facial features are bound together into a gestalt which is more than the sum of its parts. Here, we test whether individual face recognition in paper wasps also involved holistic...
Article
Full-text available
Significance Do animals encode statistical information about visual patterns the same way as humans do? If so, humans’ superior visual cognitive skills must depend on some other factors; if not, the nature of the differences can provide hints about what makes human learning so versatile. We provide a systematic comparison of automatic visual learni...
Article
Many animals need to process numerical and quantity information in order to survive. Spontaneous quantity discrimination allows differentiation between two or more quantities without reinforcement or prior training on any numerical task. It is useful for assessing food resources, aggressive interactions, predator avoidance and prey choice. Honeybee...
Article
Full-text available
Although bees are separated from humans by about 600 million years with a common ancestor that had only a rudimentary nervous system, they still share over 60% of our Genome. Any commonly observed learning principles between bees and humans may be consequently either basal, or may have evolved in parallel due to their efficiency. While the universa...
Article
Non-elemental learning constitutes a cognitive challenge because events to be learned are usually ambiguous in terms of reinforcement outcome, contrary to elemental learning, which relies on unambiguous associations. Negative patterning (NP) constitutes a paradigmatic case of non-elemental learning, as subjects have to learn that single elements ar...
Article
Full-text available
In recent years honeybees have demonstrated intriguing numerical capacities, leading to the recent discovery of their ability to perform simple arithmetic by learning to add or subtract ‘one’ using symbolic representations of operators. When training an insect with a miniature brain containing less than one million neurons to understand a conceptua...
Article
Animals including humans, fish and honeybees have demonstrated a quantity discrimination threshold at four objects, often known as subitizing elements. Discrimination between numerosities at or above the subitizing range is considered a complex capacity. In the current study, we trained and tested two groups of bees on their ability to differentiat...
Article
Full-text available
Various vertebrate species use relative numerosity judgements in comparative assessments of quantities for which they use larger/smaller relationships rather than absolute number. The numerical ability of honeybees shares basic properties with that of vertebrates but their use of absolute or relative numerosity has not been explored. We trained fre...
Article
The assignment of a symbolic representation to a specific numerosity is a fundamental requirement for humans solving complex mathematical calculations used in diverse applications such as algebra, accounting, physics and everyday commerce. Here we show that honeybees are able to learn to match a sign to a numerosity, or a numerosity to a sign, and...
Article
Full-text available
Many animals understand numbers at a basic level for use in essential tasks such as foraging, shoaling, and resource management. However, complex arithmetic operations, such as addition and subtraction, using symbols and/or labeling have only been demonstrated in a limited number of nonhuman vertebrates. We show that honeybees, with a miniature bra...
Article
Full-text available
Plant-pollinator interactions have a fundamental influence on flower evolution. Flower colour signals are frequently tuned to the visual capabilities of important pollinators such as either bees or birds, but far less is known about whether flower shape influences the choices of pollinators. We tested European honeybee (Apis mellifera) preferences...
Preprint
Full-text available
Non-elemental learning constitutes a cognitive challenge because, contrary to elemental learning forms, it does not rely on simple associations, as events to be learned are usually ambiguous in terms of reinforcement outcome. Negative patterning constitutes a paradigmatic case of non-elemental learning, as subjects have to learn that single element...
Poster
Full-text available
To study visual learning in honey bees, we developed a virtual reality (VR) system in which tethered bees walk stationary on a treadmill while they experience visual stimuli with different outcomes projected onto a semi-circular screen placed in front of them. The bee movements translate into corresponding modifications of the visual panorama (clos...
Article
Full-text available
To study visual learning in honey bees, we developed a virtual reality (VR) system in which the movements of a tethered bee walking stationary on a spherical treadmill update the visual panorama presented in front of it (closed-loop conditions), thus creating an experience of immersion within a virtual environment. In parallel, we developed a small...
Article
Full-text available
The expertise of humans for recognizing faces is largely based on holistic processing mechanism, a sophisticated cognitive process that develops with visual experience. The various visual features of a face are thus glued together and treated by the brain as a unique stimulus, facilitating robust recognition. Holistic processing is known to facilit...
Article
Full-text available
Some vertebrates demonstrate complex numerosity concepts-including addition, sequential ordering of numbers, or even the concept of zero-but whether an insect can develop an understanding for such concepts remains unknown. We trained individual honey bees to the numerical concepts of "greater than" or "less than" using stimuli containing one to six...
Article
The honey bee Apis mellifera is a major insect model for studying visual cognition. Free-flying honey bees learn to associate different visual cues with a sucrose reward and may deploy sophisticated cognitive strategies to this end. Yet, the neural bases of these capacities cannot be studied in flying insects. Conversely, immobilized bees are acces...
Article
Full-text available
Bumblebees are influenced by socially acquired information when deciding on which flowers to forage. In some circumstances, however, this attraction towards conspecifics may lead to suboptimal foraging performance because the presence of multiple pollinators typically results in a faster rate of nectar depletion in the flower. We tested the capacit...
Article
How different visual systems process images and make perceptual errors can inform us about cognitive and visual processes. One of the strongest geometric errors in perception is a misperception of size depending on the size of surrounding objects, known as the Ebbinghaus or Titchener illusion. The ability to perceive the Ebbinghaus illusion appears...
Article
Full-text available
Free-flying honeybees exhibit remarkable cognitive capacities but the neural underpinnings of these capacities cannot be studied in flying insects. Conversely, immobilized bees are accessible to neurobiological investigation but display poor visual learning. To overcome this limitation, we aimed at establishing a controlled visual environment in wh...
Article
Full-text available
The capacity to recognize perceptually similar complex visual stimuli such as human faces has classically been thought to require a large primate, and/or mammalian brain with neurobiological adaptations. However, recent work suggests that the relatively small brain of a paper wasp, Polistes fuscatus, possesses specialized face processing capabiliti...
Article
Full-text available
Learning and applying relational concepts to solve novel tasks is considered an indicator of cognitive-like ability. It requires the abstraction of relational concepts to different objects independent to the physical nature of the individual objects. Recent research has revealed the honeybee's ability to rapidly learn and manipulate relations betwe...
Article
This paper presents a bio-inspired virtual and physical robotic model of sameness/difference (SD) abstract relations investigated through associative learning tasks. Considering that the invertebrate bees presumably possess this higher cognitive ability with a relatively tiny brain (Giurfa, Zhang, Jenett, Menzel, & Srinivasan, 2001), an hypothesis...
Article
Bees are excellent invertebrate models for studying visual learning and memory mechanisms, because of their sophisticated visual system and impressive cognitive capacities associated with a relatively simple brain. Visual learning in free-flying bees has been traditionally studied using an operant conditioning paradigm. This well-established protoc...
Article
Full-text available
Bee pollinators interact with flowers in a complex signal-receiver system. Chromatic traits that allow reliable discrimination between rewarding and non-rewarding flowers have been proposed as an important feature of pollination syndromes: bee-pollinated flowers have spectral profiles that closely match the discrimination peaks of their pollinators...
Article
Full-text available
The capacity of honey bees (Apis mellifera) to detect bitter substances is controversial because they ingest without reluctance different kinds of bitter solutions in the laboratory, whereas free-flying bees avoid them in visual discrimination tasks. Here, we asked whether the gustatory perception of bees changes with the behavioral context so that...
Article
Full-text available
Social information transfer is part of the success of animal societies and has been documented in a variety of taxa, from slime molds to humans. In invertebrates, the historical research focus has been on the specialized signals shaped by selection to convey information, such as the honeybee waggle dance. However, growing evidence shows that invert...
Article
Full-text available
Traditional models of insect vision have assumed that insects are only capable of low-level analysis of local cues and are incapable of global, holistic perception. However, recent studies on honeybee (Apis mellifera) vision have refuted this view by showing that this insect also processes complex visual information by using spatial configurations...
Article
Full-text available
Social learning is a widespread phenomenon allowing animals to use information provided by other animals when presented with a novel situation. A number of recent studies suggest that nonspecific Pavlovian conditioning may explain some forms of social learning, so that animals simply learn to use the presence of conspecifics as a predictor of rewar...
Article
Full-text available
Since the demonstration of color vision in honey bees 100 years ago by Karl von Frisch, appetitive conditioning to color targets has been used as the principal way to access behavioral aspects of bee color vision. Yet, analyses on how conditioning parameters affect color perception remained scarce. Conclusions on bee color vision have often been ma...
Article
Full-text available
The ability to process visual information using relational rules allows for decisions independent of the specific physical attributes of individual stimuli. Until recently, the manipulation of relational concepts was considered as a prerogative of large mammalian brains. Here we show that individual free flying honeybees can learn to use size relat...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Bumblebees use information provided inadvertently by conspecifics when deciding between different flower foraging options. Such social learning might be explained by relatively simple associative learning mechanism: the bee may learn to associate conspecifics with nectar or pollen reward through previous experience of foraging jointly....
Article
Full-text available
Concepts act as a cornerstone of human cognition. Humans and non-human primates learn conceptual relationships such as 'same', 'different', 'larger than', 'better than', among others. In all cases, the relationships have to be encoded by the brain independently of the physical nature of objects linked by the relation. Consequently, concepts are ass...
Article
Full-text available
Social learning involves the acquisition of information from other individuals and is a behavioural strategy found in a wide range of taxa from insects to humans. Traditionally, research in this field has concentrated on learning from members of the same species; however, there is increasing evidence for social learning across species boundaries. O...
Article
Recent debate has questioned whether animal social learning truly deserves the label "social" [1]. Solitary animals can sometimes learn from conspecifics [2, 3], and social learning abilities often correlate with individual learning abilities [4-6], so there may be little reason to view the underlying learning processes as adaptively specialized. H...
Article
Traditional views of insect vision use parameterised high-contrast stimuli and assume both simple reflexive responses to stimuli and an incapacity to configure pattern elements in a unified percept [1]; but such models cannot account for the wide range of very complex visual discriminations that the bee visual system masters with continued experien...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Background / Purpose: Honeybees can process spatial configurations to classify objects. This ability might explain their faculty to discriminate complex pictures such as faces. We used Navon-like hierarchical stimuli to test the preference of honeybees to use either featural or configural information when making choices. Main conclusion: We sh...
Article
Full-text available
The honey bee is a traditional animal model for the study of visual perception, learning, and memory. Extensive behavioral studies have shown that honey bees perceive, learn, and memorize colors, shapes, and patterns when these visual cues are paired with sucrose reward. Bee color vision is trichromatic, based on three photoreceptor types (S, M, L)...
Article
Full-text available
Sorting objects and events into categories and concepts is a fundamental cognitive capacity that reduces the cost of learning every particular situation encountered in our daily lives. Relational concepts such as "same," "different," "better than," or "larger than"--among others--are essential in human cognition because they allow highly efficient...
Article
Full-text available
The golden paper wasp is a social insect whose colony members have the remarkable ability to recognise each others' faces. New research shows that this species is singularly skilled at learning about faces, opening interesting perspectives on convergent evolution of specialist cognitive abilities in insects and vertebrates.
Article
Full-text available
Visual learning admits different levels of complexity, from the formation of a simple associative link between a visual stimulus and its outcome, to more sophisticated performances, such as object categorization or rules learning, that allow flexible responses beyond simple forms of learning. Not surprisingly, higher-order forms of visual learning...