Ants Can Acquire Multiple Symbolisms

  •  Marie-Claire Cammaerts    
  •  Roger Cammaerts    


The workers of the ant Myrmica sabuleti were previously shown to be able to associate a given amount to its corresponding symbol, one symbol at a time. It was here examined if they can simultaneously learn to associate the amount 1 with a corresponding symbol, the amount 2 with another symbol, the amount 3 with a third symbol, and the amount 4 with a fourth symbol, the cue to avoid being the amount 5. Thanks to operant conditioning during 156 hours and twelve successive testing experiments, it was shown that the ants can effectively memorize, in the course of a same time period, the association between the amounts 1, 2, 3, and 4 and their respective symbols. A distance effect was observed for the learning of the amounts 1 to 4 versus 5, but not for the learning of their four corresponding symbols.

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