Animal Cognition

, Volume 13, Issue 6, pp 805–815

Latent inhibition in the honey bee, Apis mellifera: Is it a unitary phenomenon?


  • Sathees B. C. Chandra
    • Department of Biological, Chemical and Physical SciencesRoosevelt University
  • Geraldine A. Wright
    • Centre for Behaviour and Evolution, Institute of NeuroscienceNewcastle University
    • School of Life SciencesArizona State University
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10071-010-0329-6

Cite this article as:
Chandra, S.B.C., Wright, G.A. & Smith, B.H. Anim Cogn (2010) 13: 805. doi:10.1007/s10071-010-0329-6


Latent inhibition refers to learning that some stimuli are not signals of important events. It has been widely studied in vertebrates, but it has been substantially less well studied in invertebrates. We present an investigation into latent inhibition in the honey bee (Apis mellifera) using a proboscis extension response conditioning procedure that involved ‘preexposure’ of an odor without reinforcement prior to appetitive conditioning. A significant latent inhibition effect, measured in terms of a reduction in acquisition performance to the preexposed odor, was observed after 8 unreinforced presentations, and the effect continued to increase in strength up to 30 presentations. We also observed that memories formed for the preexposed odor lasted at least 24 h. Further manipulation of interstimulus interval and the visual conditioning context partially attenuated the effect. The latter results indicate that latent inhibition in honey bees may not be a unitary phenomenon. Two different mechanisms may be required, in which one mechanism is dependent on the visual context and the second is not.


Latent inhibitionHoney beeContextOlfactionMechanism

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© Springer-Verlag 2010