We investigated the effect of 60'g of corticosterone administered to domestic chicks either before or after hatching on the behavioral response to isolation in a novel arena and performance in a task involving the simultaneous identification of food and detection of a predator (overhead silhouette of a hawk moving overhead). Following release into a novel arena, chicks treated with corticosterone at 18 days of incubation emitted more distress vocalizations. In contrast, no difference in the number of vocalizations was found between chicks treated with corticosterone at day 1 post-hatching and controls. Behavior in the home cages was generally similar across treatments, though chicks treated with corticosterone at 18 days of incubation slept more than control chicks. While searching for grain against a background of pebbles, chicks treated with corticosterone at embryonic day 18, but not chicks treated on day 1 post-hatching, took longer to detect the overhead image of a predator than did controls. Corticosterone treatment at both ages increased the rate of pecking at grains and pebbles. Our findings support work on other birds indicating that corticosterone treatment during incubation influences stress reactivity. The impairment in predator detection in chicks treated with corticosterone on day 18 of incubation appears to be caused by the known effects of corticosterone treatment at this age in preventing the development of lateralization of the thalamofugal visual projections. This further support the hypothesis that brain lateralization provides an advantage in performing more than one task simultaneously.
Freire, R., van Dort, S., & Rogers, L. (2006). Pre- and post-hatching effects of corticosterone treatment on behavior of the domestic chick. Hormones and Behavior, 49(2), 157-165. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.yhbeh.2005.05.015