Experience during a period of right hemispheric dominance alters attention to spatial information in the domestic chick

Rafael Freire, Lesley Rogers

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Abstract

We tested the hypothesis that experience of moving out-of-sight of an imprinting stimulus during a period of right hemispheric dominance (11 days of age), but not during a period of left hemispheric dominance (8 days of age), biases attention to distal spatial cues. Chicks were trained to locate a hidden imprinting object behind one of two differently marked screens placed at either end of a rectangular arena, and then presented with five unrewarded probe tests with the arena rotated by 1800. Chicks that had experience of going behind opaque screens on day 11 chose the screen in the same direction as during training (i.e. using distal cues) significantly more often than chicks given experience with opaque screens on day 8 or chicks provided with two transparent screens on either of these two days (P=0.016). We conclude that the similarities between behaviour patterns of chicks in the laboratory and in semi-natural environments suggest that moving out-of-sight of the mother at 11 days of age is an ecologically important behavioural pattern that requires dominance by the right hemisphere to shift the chick’s response to distal spatial information for locating a hidden goal.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)413-418
Number of pages6
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Volume74
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2007

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