Are they watching you?

Recognising faces is essential for how we interact in complex societies, and is often thought to be an ability that requires the sophistication of the large human brain.

But new evidence we published in Frontiers in Psychology shows that insects such as the honeybee (Apis mellifera) and the European wasp (Vespula vulgaris) use visual processing mechanisms that are similar to humans’, which enables reliable face recognition.

This is despite the tiny size of the insects’ brains. They contain fewer than one million brain cells, compared with the 86,000 million that make up a human brain.

Understanding what size of brain can enable complex tasks to be efficiently solved is certainly interesting, but also has practical implications. It allows us to understand how large brains may have evolved, and how to think about designing artificial intelligence (AI) that might mirror the efficiency of biological brains.

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