How are we able to find things in the dark? And how can we imagine how something feels just by looking at it?
It is because our brain is able to store information in such a way that it can be retrieved by different senses. This multi-sensory integration allows us to form mental images of the world and underpins our conscious awareness.
It turns out that the ability to recognise objects across different senses is present in the tiny brains of an insect.
Researchers at Queen Mary University of London and Macquarie University in Sydney have published new work in the journal Science showing that bumblebees can also find objects in the dark they've only seen before.
In the light, but barred from touching the objects, bumblebees were trained to find rewarding sugar water in one type of object (cubes or spheres) and bitter quinine solution in the other shape.
When tested in the dark, bees preferred the object that was previously rewarding, spending more time exploring them.
Bumblebees also solved the task the other way around. After bees learned to find a particular shape in the dark, they were tested in the light and again preferred the shape they had learned was rewarding by touch alone.
This ability is called cross-modal recognition and it allows us to perceive a complete picture of the world with rich representations.
By: Prerana Sharma