Science, Vol.367, No.6480, 910-+, 2020
Bumble bees display cross-modal object recognition between visual and tactile senses
Many animals can associate object shapes with incentives. However, such behavior is possible without storing images of shapes in memory that are accessible to more than one sensory modality. One way to explore whether there are modality-independent internal representations of object shapes is to investigate cross-modal recognition-experiencing an object in one sensory modality and later recognizing it in another. We show that bumble bees trained to discriminate two differently shaped objects (cubes and spheres) using only touch (in darkness) or vision (in light, but barred from touching the objects) could subsequently discriminate those same objects using only the other sensory information. Our experiments demonstrate that bumble bees possess the ability to integrate sensory information in a way that requires modality-independent internal representations.