Stimulus intensity is an important determinant for perception, learning and behaviour. We studied the effects of odorant concentration on classical conditioning involving odorants and odorant-mechanosensory compounds using the proboscis-extension reflex in the honeybee. Our results show that high concentrations of odorant (a) support better discrimination in a feature-positive task using rewarded odorant-mechanosensory compounds versus unrewarded mechanosensory stimuli, (b) have a stronger capacity to overshadow learning of a simultaneously trained mechanosensory stimulus, and (c) induce better memory consolidation. Furthermore, honeybees were trained discriminatively to two different concentrations of one odorant. Honeybees are not able to solve this task when presented with rewarded low versus unrewarded high concentrations. Taken together, our results suggest that high concentrations of odorant support stronger associations (are more 'salient') than low concentrations. Our results, however, do not indicate that honeybees can treat two different concentrations of one odorant as qualitatively different stimuli. These findings fill a gap in what is known about honeybee olfactory learning and are a first step in relating behaviour to recent advances in the physiological analysis of coding for odorant concentration in honeybees.
Odorant intensity as a determinant for olfactory conditioning in honeybees: roles in discrimination, overshadowing and memory consolidation.
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C Pelz, B Gerber, R Menzel; Odorant intensity as a determinant for olfactory conditioning in honeybees: roles in discrimination, overshadowing and memory consolidation.. J Exp Biol 1 February 1997; 200 (4): 837–847. doi: https://doi.org/10.1242/jeb.200.4.837
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