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Search of functional and behavioral evidences of olfactory sensory pre-conditioning in honeybees Apis mellifera.

María Paula Ospital

  • Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires,
  • Argentina
  • María Paula Ospital ¹
  • , Fernando Locatelli ¹
  • 1 Departamento de Fisiología, Biología Molecular y Celular; FCEN; Instituto de Fisiología, Biología Molecular y Neurociencias; UBA-CONICET, Argentina.

Animals must be able to learn which elements of the sensory input belong together and constitute an object. To address the mechanisms related to this ability in honeybees we use an olfactory pre-conditioning protocol, which involves three phases. The first one is the stimulation with a binary odor mixture. Second, one of the components of the mixture is reinforced according to a Pavlovian conditioning protocol. Third, we test if the non-reinforced component of the mixture elicits the learned response. A positive response would serve as evidence that both odors have been associated during the first phase. Results obtained so far indicate a weak effect in the short-term and no long-term memory. In a second experiment we shortly desynchronized the odors during the first phase with the mixture, assuming that this would facilitate the detection of the individual components as constituents of the mixture. Despite of that, no evidence of pre-conditioning was observed. Finally, we performed calcium imaging of the neural activity patterns elicited by pure odors and mixtures. We address whether the patterns of activity elicited by pure odors are more similar to each other after sensory pre-conditioning than before, which it would constitute evidence that stimulation with an odor retrieves the other one. Nevertheless, our results indicate the opposite. So far, all our results indicate that olfactory sensory preconditioning is not a robust phenomenon in honey bees.