Experience-induced modulation of the use of spatial information in the domestic chick

Rafael Freire, Lesley Rogers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

We examined whether experience of opaque or transparent screens modulates the use of distal or proximal cues for spatial orientation by domestic chicks. Chicks were housed in isolation with a ball suspended in the middle of the cage to serve as an imprinting stimulus. At 8 days of age chicks were re-housed in larger cages in pairs, and from 10-12 days of age either two opaque screens or two transparent screens were placed either side of the imprinting stimulus. Chicks could lose sight of the imprinting stimulus or their cage mate in cages with opaque screens, but were unable to do so in cages with transparent screens. At 13 and 14 days of age, chicks were trained to find the imprinting stimulus behind one of two screens. For half the chicks the screens were identical (both white) and for the remainder they were distinctly different (one was white and the other was covered in a coloured pattern). After training, unrewarded probe tests were presented to chicks using both eyes (BIN), the left eye (LES) or right eye (RES) with the apparatus rotated by 1800 so that proximal and distal cues indicated opposite sides of the apparatus. Generally, chicks chose the screen on the distal side more often and with a shorter latency in probe tests with identical screens than in probe tests with different screens. In probe tests with different screens proximal cues were used more frequently, although LES chicks chose the distal side more than the proximal side, whereas RES chicks chose the proximal side more than the distal side. In BIN probe tests with different screens, chicks reared in cages with opaque screens were quicker in making a choice, and tended to choose the screen on the distal side more often than chicks reared in cages with transparent screens. They also failed to chose a screen less often than the latter. Additionally, chicks reared in cages with opaque screens failed to make a choice less often than chicks reared in cages with transparent screens in monprobe tests with identical screens. The results suggest that chicks using the LES are less easily disrupted by conflicting proximal cues than chicks using the RES, and that experience of visual barriers from 10-12 days of age improves the chick's ability to attend to distal cues.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1093-1100
Number of pages8
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Volume69
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2005

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