It was already known that bees could understand the notion of zero and can perform basic math operations, but a new study argues that the insects may have the ability to make a connection between symbols and numbers. A team of researchers has managed to train honeybees to match a character with a specific quantity, an achievement which proves that they can learn and infer that a symbol can be associated with a numerical amount.
The discovery has been deemed to be quite crucial since it may offer new details about how numerical abilities changed and evolved in the course of millennia. It is also thought that the information may pave the way to new means of communication between humans and other species.
The study was conducted by the same team who found out that bees understand the concept of zero and can perform basic arithmetic. Data collected by the survey offers new references for bio-based computing, which could replicate the efficient processing abilities possessed by the brain.
Bees Are Smarter Than We Thought, As They Can Link Symbols To Numbers
According to one of the researchers involved in the study, humans may be the only species which crafted a unique system for designating number (for example, the Arabic numerals which are used daily) the research shows that beings with a smaller brain can tackle and understand the concepts.
Humanity takes this ability for granted since it is learned during the early stages of our development, but the ability to understand what the symbol of a number represents factually comes with the requirement of advanced cognitive ability.
Previous studies have also shown that birds and primates can learn to link symbols with numbers, but the new study is the first to observe this trait in insects. The study of insect brains may provide valuable data for the development of advanced computer systems in the future. The paper was published in a peer-reviewed journal.
Dee Mongo is a graduate of UFT. She’s based in Toronto and has written for Maclean’s, Motherboard, the National Post, and the Huffington Post. In her spare time, she plays AC/DC on the ukulele and does psychic readings for B-grade celebrities. Dee is our tech/finance correspondent.