Data_Sheet_4_Numerosity Categorization by Parity in an Insect and Simple Neural Network.CSV
A frequent question as technology improves and becomes increasingly complex, is how we enable technological solutions and models inspired by biological systems. Creating technology based on humans is challenging and costly as human brains and cognition are complex. The honeybee has emerged as a valuable comparative model which exhibits some cognitive-like behaviors. The relative simplicity of the bee brain compared to large mammalian brains enables learning tasks, such as categorization, that can be mimicked by simple neural networks. Categorization of abstract concepts can be essential to how we understand complex information. Odd and even numerical processing is known as a parity task in human mathematical representations, but there appears to be a complete absence of research exploring parity processing in non-human animals. We show that free-flying honeybees can visually acquire the capacity to differentiate between odd and even quantities of 1–10 geometric elements and extrapolate this categorization to the novel numerosities of 11 and 12, revealing that such categorization is accessible to a comparatively simple system. We use this information to construct a neural network consisting of five neurons that can reliably categorize odd and even numerosities up to 40 elements. While the simple neural network is not directly based on the biology of the honeybee brain, it was created to determine if simple systems can replicate the parity categorization results we observed in honeybees. This study thus demonstrates that a task, previously only shown in humans, is accessible to a brain with a comparatively small numbers of neurons. We discuss the possible mechanisms or learning processes allowing bees to perform this categorization task, which range from numeric explanations, such as counting, to pairing elements and memorization of stimuli or patterns. The findings should encourage further testing of parity processing in a wider variety of animals to inform on its potential biological roots, evolutionary drivers, and potential technology innovations for concept processing.