Animal Cognition

, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 141–150 | Cite as

Honeybees (Apis mellifera) holding on to memories: response competition causes retroactive interference effects

Original Article


Five experiments on honeybees examined how the learning of a second task interferes with what was previously learned. Free flying bees were tested for landmark-based memory in variations on a paradigm of retroactive interference. Bees first learned Task 1, were tested on Task 1 (Test 1), then learned Task 2, and were tested again on Task 1 (Test 2). A 60-min delay (waiting in a box) before Test 2 caused no performance decrements. If the two tasks had conflicting response requirements, (e.g., target right of a green landmark in Task 1 and left of a blue landmark in Task 2), then a strong decrement on Test 2 was found (retroactive interference effect). When response competition was minimised during training or testing, however, the decrement on Test 2 was small or nonexistent. The results implicate response competition as a major contributor to the retroactive interference effect. The honeybee seems to hold on to memories; new memories do not wipe out old ones.


Honeybee Landmark Spatial memory Retroactive interference Response competition 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for the Integrative Study of Animal Behaviour and Department of PsychologyMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia

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