Friday seminar: Frontiers of Insect Cognition
By Clint Perry, Cognitive Neuroethologist from Queen Mary University, London, UK
Invertebrates are often not considered to have evolved the neural requirements for many cognitive abilities, but recent experimental studies, especially in social bees, have suggested various forms of sophisticated cognition in these miniature brains. Some of my recent work has shown that bees display impressive cognitive flexibility, show evidence of emotional states and potentially a basic form of metacognition, phenomena that were once thought to be the domain of much larger-brained animals. This calls into question the notion that large brains have evolved for certain affordances and opens future avenues of research exploring both the evolution and the neural underpinnings of cognition in relatively small nervous systems. I’ll discuss some of these recent experiments, what we can garner from them and speculate on potential and exciting avenues for future invertebrate research.
Dr. Clint Perry is a Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellow at Queen Mary University, UK, and uses "immunohistochemistry, pharmacology, RFID tracking, radar, modelling, computational analyses, and behavioural experiments in the lab and field to explore the vast world of miniscule brains".