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The Effects of Prenatal and Postnatal Auditory Stimulation On Early Vocalization and Approach Behavior in the Japanese Quail (Coturnix Coturnix Japonica)

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The purpose of this experiment was to examine the effects of prenatal and postnatal auditory stimulation and the effects of age, experience, and social context during testing on the early behavior of chicks of the quail Coturnix coturnix japonica. One group of chicks (group PRO) was exposed to a 2000-Hertz tone twice per second for 4 hours before hatching and 4 hours after hatching. A second group (group PR) was exposed to the auditory stimulus for 4 hours before hatching. A third group (C, controls) was not exposed to the stimulus. For testing, each group was divided into 7 categories defined by age at testing, prior test experience, and whether the subject was tested singly or with another chick. Each chick was tested for 8 minutes with the auditory stimulus on and 4 minutes with it off. Peep (distress) vocalizations and approaches to the auditory stimulus as opposed to a tactile stimulus in a choice test were recorded. Chicks in all groups peeped less when the auditory stimulus was turned on, and peeped less when tested in pairs. Age at testing and prior test experience had no effect. Group PRO peeped more than either group PR or group C, regardless of whether the sound was on or off. Few chicks approached either stimulus in the choice test, but all that did preferred the auditory stimulus. Group PRO approached more frequently than group C but less frequently than group PR. Thus both prenatal and postnatal auditory stimulation modified later vocalization and approach behavior. Several possible interpretations of these findings as well as their implications for imprinting research methodology are discussed.

Affiliations: 1: (Psychology Department, Bucknell University, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.


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