New research suggests that bumblebees may experience emotion-like states similar to human feelings.
“If I have a bit of dark chocolate, everything’s great for a while,” said Clint Perry of Queen Mary University of London. And a sugary treat has a similar effect on bumblebees.
Perry trained bees to forage from mock flowers. Blue ones contained a weak sugar solution, green ones only water. Half of the bees were then given a taste of highly concentrated sugar solution before all were tested for their reactions to an ambiguous blue-green flower.
Those bees that had received the treat flew faster towards the blue-green flower. “You could say they’d become more optimistic,” said Perry.
Intriguingly, blocking the action of dopamine, a brain chemical that is central to emotional functioning in humans, dampened the effect.
“If bumblebees have this fundamental element of emotional states, similar to those of humans, it could be that they also have subjective feelings,” said Perry.
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