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Studies of Learned Helplessness in Honey Bees (Apis Mellifera Ligustica)

Dinges, Christopher W.
The current study provides evidence of learned helplessness in the honey bee (Apis mellifera L.). Bees received either avoidable or unavoidable shock during a discriminative compartment restriction task in an automated shuttle box. Decreased avoidance behavior was observed when bees received unavoidable shock prior to avoidable shock tests, conserving a non-preference response pattern. Prior training with avoidable shock created a preference that was conserved when shock was later unavoidable. Length of the training time impacted how pronounced the conserved behavior was in subsequent tests. Unlike existing learned helplessness studies in other animals, no decrease in general activity was observed. These findings identify honey bees as a unique model organism to explore the process of learned helplessness.