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Olfactory memory formation and the influence of reward pathway during appetitive learning by honey bees

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Geraldine Wright


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Animals possess the ability to assess food quality via taste and via changes in state that occur after ingestion. Here, we investigate the extent to which a honey bee's ability to assess food quality affected the formation of association with an odor stimulus and the retention of olfactory memories associated with reward. We used three different conditioning protocols in which the unconditioned stimulus (food) was delivered as sucrose stimulation to the proboscis (mouthparts), the antennae or to both proboscis and antennae. All means of delivery of the unconditioned stimulus produced robust associative conditioning with an odor. However, the memory of a conditioned odor decayed at a significantly greater rate for subjects experiencing antennal-only stimulation after either multiple- or single-trial conditioning. Finally, to test whether the act of feeding on a reward containing sucrose during conditioning affected olfactory memory formation, we conditioned honey bees to associate an odor with antennal stimulation with sucrose followed by feeding on a water droplet. We observed that a honey bee's ability to recall the conditioned odor was not significantly different from that of subjects conditioned with an antennal-only sucrose stimulus. Our results show that stimulation of the sensory receptors on the proboscis and/or ingestion of the sucrose reward during appetitive olfactory conditioning are necessary for long-term memory formation.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Wright GA, Mustard JA, Kottcamp SM, Smith BH

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Experimental Biology

Year: 2007

Volume: 210

Issue: 22

Pages: 4024-4033

Print publication date: 01/11/2007

ISSN (print): 0022-0949

ISSN (electronic): 1477-9145

Publisher: The Company of Biologists Ltd.


DOI: 10.1242/jeb.006585

PubMed id: 17981870


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