[Editor's note: Besides the great headline, fascinating look at bee's spatial memory.]
Republished from the New York Times. Feb. 1, 2010.
By SINDYA N. BHANOO
A honeybee brain has a million neurons, compared with the 100 billion in a human brain. But, researchers report, bees can recognize faces, and they even do it the same way we do.
Bees and humans both use a technique called configural processing, piecing together the components of a face — eyes, ears, nose and mouth — to form a recognizable pattern, a team of researchers report in the Feb. 15 issue of The Journal of Experimental Biology.
“It’s a kind of gluing,” said Martin Giurfa, a professor of neural biology at the University de Toulouse, France, and one of the study’s authors.
It is the same ability, Dr. Giurfa said, that helps humans realize that a Chinese pagoda and a Swiss chalet are both abodes, based on their components.
“We know two vertical lines, with a hutlike top,” he said. “It’s a house.”
In their research, Dr. Giurfa and his colleagues created a display of hand-drawn images, some faces and some not.