Data_Sheet_1_Aversive Training of Honey Bees in an Automated Y-Maze.PDF (550.51 kB)
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Data_Sheet_1_Aversive Training of Honey Bees in an Automated Y-Maze.PDF

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posted on 04.06.2019, 12:48 authored by Morgane Nouvian, C. Giovanni Galizia

Honeybees have remarkable learning abilities given their small brains, and have thus been established as a powerful model organism for the study of learning and memory. Most of our current knowledge is based on appetitive paradigms, in which a previously neutral stimulus (e.g., a visual, olfactory, or tactile stimulus) is paired with a reward. Here, we present a novel apparatus, the yAPIS, for aversive training of walking honey bees. This system consists in three arms of equal length and at 120° from each other. Within each arm, colored lights (λ = 375, 465 or 520 nm) or odors (here limonene or linalool) can be delivered to provide conditioned stimuli (CS). A metal grid placed on the floor and roof delivers the punishment in the form of mild electric shocks (unconditioned stimulus, US). Our training protocol followed a fully classical procedure, in which the bee was exposed sequentially to a CS paired with shocks (CS+) and to another CS not punished (CS-). Learning performance was measured during a second phase, which took advantage of the Y-shape of the apparatus and of real-time tracking to present the bee with a choice situation, e.g., between the CS+ and the CS-. Bees reliably chose the CS- over the CS+ after only a few training trials with either colors or odors, and retained this memory for at least a day, except for the shorter wavelength (λ = 375 nm) that produced mixed results. This behavior was largely the result of the bees avoiding the CS+, as no evidence was found for attraction to the CS-. Interestingly, trained bees initially placed in the CS+ spontaneously escaped to a CS- arm if given the opportunity, even though they could never do so during the training. Finally, honey bees trained with compound stimuli (color + odor) later avoided either components of the CS+. Thus, the yAPIS is a fast, versatile and high-throughput way to train honey bees in aversive paradigms. It also opens the door for controlled laboratory experiments investigating bimodal integration and learning, a field that remains in its infancy.