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Insects 2014, 5(1), 167-198; doi:10.3390/insects5010167

The First Order Transfer Function in the Analysis of Agrochemical Data in Honey Bees (Apis Mellifera L.): Proboscis Extension Reflex (PER) Studies

Laboratory of Comparative Psychology and Behavioral Biology, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078, USA
Department of Neuropharmacology, Institute for Experimental Medicine, 12 Acad. Pavlov Street, St. Petersburg 197376, Russia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 14 October 2013 / Revised: 4 November 2013 / Accepted: 23 December 2013 / Published: 7 January 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Honey Bee Behavior)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [292 KB, uploaded 7 January 2014]


This paper describes a mathematical model of the learning process suitable for studies of conditioning using the proboscis extension reflex (PER) in honey bees when bees are exposed to agrochemicals. Although procedural variations exist in the way laboratories use the PER paradigm, proboscis conditioning is widely used to investigate the influence of pesticides and repellents on honey bee learning. Despite the availability of several mathematical models of the learning process, no attempts have been made to apply a mathematical model to the learning curve in honey bees exposed to agrochemicals. Our model is based on the standard transfer function in the form Y=B3 e-B2 (X-1) +B4(1-e-B2 (X-1)) where X is the trial number, Y is the proportion of correct responses, B2 is the learning rate, B3 is readiness to learn, and B4 is ability to learn. We reanalyze previously published data on the effect of several classes of agrochemicals including: (1) those that are considered harmless to bees (e.g., pymetrozine, essential oils, dicofol); (2) sublethal exposure to pesticides known to harm honey bees (e.g., coumaphos, cyfluthrin, fluvalinate, permethrin); and (3) putative repellents of honey bees (e.g., butyric acid, citronella). The model revealed additional effects not detected with standard statistical tests of significance. View Full-Text
Keywords: mathematical model; agrochemicals; proboscis conditioning in honey bees mathematical model; agrochemicals; proboscis conditioning in honey bees
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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De Stefano, L.A.; Stepanov, I.I.; Abramson, C.I. The First Order Transfer Function in the Analysis of Agrochemical Data in Honey Bees (Apis Mellifera L.): Proboscis Extension Reflex (PER) Studies. Insects 2014, 5, 167-198.

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