Navigation Links
First demonstration of 'teaching' in non-human animals

Certain species of ant use a technique known as 'tandem running' to lead another ant from the nest to a food source. Signals between the two ants control both the speed and course of the run. It is believed to be the first time a demonstration of 'formal' teaching has been recognised in any non-human animal.

This behaviour indicates that it could be the value of information, rather than the constraint of brain size, that has influenced the evolution of teaching.

The research, by Professor Nigel Franks and Tom Richardson from Bristol University, is reported today in Nature [12 January 2006].

According to the accepted definition of teaching in animal behaviour, an individual is a teacher if it modifies its behaviour in the presence of a naïve observer, at some initial cost to itself, in order to set an example so that the other individual can learn more quickly.

Professor Franks said: "We also believe that true teaching always involves feedback in both directions between the teacher and the pupil. In other words, the teacher provides information or guidance for the pupil at a rate suited to the pupil's abilities, and the pupil signals to the teacher when parts of the 'lesson' have been assimilated and that the lesson may continue."

Tandem running in Temnothorax ants meets all these criteria and thus qualifies as teaching. At the start of a tandem run, the leader finds a naïve individual who is willing to follow her. But tandem runs are rather slow because the follower frequently pauses to look round for landmarks so that it can learn the route. Only when the follower has done this does it tap on the hind legs and abdomen of the leader to let it know that the tandem run can proceed.

The researchers' detailed analysis of the movements of tandem leaders and tandem followers shows the mutual feedback between them: if the gap between them gets too large, the leader decelerates and the follower accelerates, and if the gap between them gets too small, the leader accelerates and the follower decelerates.

It is as if the leader is towing the follower but the process is highly intermittent because the follower is dictating the speed of the lesson by stopping frequently to consolidate its growing knowledge of the path that it has taken.

Tandem leaders pay a cost because they would normally have reached thefood around four times faster if not hampered by a follower. But the benefit is that the follower learns where the food is much quicker than it would have done independently. Tandem followers learn their lessons so well that they often become tandem leaders and in this way time-saving information flows through the ant colony.

Richardson added: "This behaviour is beautifully simple. If one experimentally removes the follower and taps the leader with a hair at a rate of two times per second or more, the leader will continue."

The occurrence of teaching in ants indicates that teaching can evolve in animals with tiny brains. It is probably the value of information in social animals that determines when teaching will evolve, rather the constraints of brain size.


'"/>

Source:University of Bristol


Related biology news :

1. Timing is everything: First step in protein building revealed
2. Emory Eye Center Implants Its First Retinal Chips In Patients With Retinitis Pigmentosa
3. First atlas of key brain genes could speed research on cancer, neurological diseases
4. First-ever Compounds To Target Only Metastatic Cells Are Highly Effective Against Breast, Prostate, And Colon Cancers
5. NYCs First Rapid HIV Drug-resistant AIDS Case Prompts Call to Step Up HIV Prevention
6. First real-time view of developing neurons reveals surprises, say Stanford researchers
7. Breast-Cancer Risk Linked to Exposure to Traffic Emissions at Menarche, First Birth
8. Mayo Clinic Researchers Create Obedient Virus; First Step To Use Measles Virus Against Cancer
9. First frozen egg baby born in Canada
10. Human Cells Filmed Instantly Messaging for First Time
11. First North American Encapsulated Islet Transplant without Long-term Immune Suppression into a Patient with Type 1 Diabetes
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:3/28/2017)... The report "Video Surveillance Market ... Storage Devices), Software (Video Analytics, VMS), and Service (VSaaS, ... to 2022", published by MarketsandMarkets, the market was valued ... to reach USD 75.64 Billion by 2022, at a ... year considered for the study is 2016 and the ...
(Date:3/24/2017)... Research and Markets has announced the addition of the ... Forecast to 2025" report to their offering. ... The Global Biometric Vehicle Access System ... over the next decade to reach approximately $1,580 million by 2025. ... forecasts for all the given segments on global as well as ...
(Date:3/22/2017)... March 21, 2017   Neurotechnology , a ... technologies, today announced the release of the ... provides improved facial recognition using up to 10 ... single computer. The new version uses deep neural-network-based ... and it utilizes a Graphing Processing Unit (GPU) ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:7/18/2017)... ... July 18, 2017 , ... G-CON today announced that ... Office for its Patent Applications 14/858,857 and 13/669,785 both entitled Modular, Self-Contained, Mobile ... further expand the protection of G-CON’s R&D investments and validate the G-CON platform ...
(Date:7/18/2017)... ... July 18, 2017 , ... Allotrope Foundation ... the first phase of the Allotrope Framework for commercial use. , The Bio-IT ... to “not only elevate the critical role of information technology in modern biomedical ...
(Date:7/17/2017)... ... , ... Whitehouse Laboratories is excited to announce that it ... of ISO 80369 standard test procedures. The ISO 80369 series of eight test ... With this recent expansion, Whitehouse Labs becomes one of the only facilities in ...
(Date:7/17/2017)... ... July 17, 2017 , ... ... announced safety software company AB Cube has joined its eHealth App ... advance technology innovation across life sciences and healthcare. Under the partnership, AB ...
Breaking Biology Technology: