Home > Papers from 2014 > Selective attention during pattern recognition

Selective attention during pattern recognition

Visual attention is something that we take for granted, i.e our ability to focus on components of a larger scene. The existence of visual attention has been demonstrated for insects, however we don’t know much about the implementational detail of visual attention within complex behaviour. Avarguès-Weber et al have begun to study this using a classic problem: can one “see the wood for the trees”. Bees are trained with compound patterns where the global shape (a square for example) is made up of smaller shapes (e.g. triangles). Bees will subsequently prefer the global shape made up of new smaller shapes over a new global shape made up of the original smaller shape. However, this preference can be reversed if bees have pre-training experience of small shapes. Thus in their behavioural choices bees show a form of flexible visual attention. Further investigations of the balance of the cognitive and behavioural mechanisms that build to this selective attention are needed.

Aurore Avarguès-Weber, Adrian G. Dyer, Noha Ferrah, and Martin Giurfa (2014) The forest or the trees: preference for global over local image processing is reversed by prior experience in honeybees. Proc. R. Soc. B. doi:10.1098/rspb.2014.2384
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