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Perceptual Imprinting: Genetically Variable Response Tendencies, Selective Learning, and the Phenotypic Expression of Colour and Pattern Preferences in Quail Chicks (C. Coturnix Japonica)

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Eighteen generations of bidirectional genetic selection of quail for early approach preferences between two colours resulted in nearly perfect preferences of blue over red in one and red over blue in another genetic line. This selection also enhanced, over performance of unselected controls, the preference of a grated over a dotted pattern in both genetic lines. In the choices between composite stimuli colour effects dominated over pattern effects. Imprinting to blue or red resulted in robust modification of colour choices. Imprinting to composite stimuli of colours and patterns likewise modified colour but did not change or only marginally changed pattern choices, suggesting colour dominance in learning as well. However, imprinting to achromatic patterns also left pattern choices unchanged, or modified them only marginally. Joint imprinting to blue and red in variable temporal ratios modified colour choices in ways that reflected influences from both the genetically manipulated initial preference values and the exposure dosages of particular colours. The genetically manipulated preference values and preference combinations of stimuli thus influenced the outcome of imprinting by setting the baselines upon which selective learning acted, by underlying perceptual dominance of particular stimuli, and by facilitating or inhibiting the phenotypic expression of what had been learned.

Affiliations: 1: Research Department, The Menninger Foundation, Topeka, Kansas, U.S.A.


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