Guest Talk: Adrian G. Dyer

21. Juli 2016
University Main Building, W 0-135

Vision in complex environments; lessons from the bee

The trichromatic visual system of bees enables these important pollinators to find flowers in highly
complex natural environments, and bees typically experience many events to learn problems. In free
flying conditions bees are able to learn a number of complex visual tasks using configural type
processing mechanisms, which were previously assumed to require large vertebrate brains. Bees can
also learn conceptual type rules like above/below, size rules, or even simultaneously acquire two
abstract concepts in a time frame that out performs human subjects. Bees also have a capacity for
impressive multi-modal processing, suggesting a very sophisticated level of information
management in the brain. We discuss that ecological context (i.e. foraging in complex environments)
promotes a capacity for a brain to learn: specifically addressing the topical question of are bigger
brains better.

Brief Bio: A/Prof completed PhD in 2000 under Prof Bill Muntz and was awared a Alexander von
Humboldt Fellowship to work with Prof Lars Chittka in Wuerzburg 2002, and Prof Neumeyer in
Mainz 2004. Completed postoctoral positions at Cambridge (UK), La Trobe and Monash Universities
Australia; before being awared a Queen Elizabeth II Fellowship and obtaining a tenured position at
RMIT University.