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Auditory Learning and Filial Imprinting in the Chick

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The present study investigated auditory learning in chicks (Gallus gallus domesticus) in a filial imprinting situation, using an experimental design employed frequently in laboratory studies of visual imprinting. In Experiment 1, chicks were trained by exposing them to one of two artificial sounds. The presence of a visual stimulus (a rotating red box) during training enhanced subsequent preferential approach to the training sound (Exp. 1a 1b), while prolonged training in the presence of the box led to a significant preference for the training sound over a novel sound (Exp. 1c). In Experiment 2, chicks were trained by exposing them to one of two maternal cluck-vocalizations. There was significant auditory learning in the absence of the red box, but training in the presence of the box resulted in a greater preference for the training call. These results show that chicks can develop a preference for an auditory stimulus as a result of exposure to it. The presence of a visual stimulus during training enhances auditory learning, possibly through associative learning or through increased arousal or attention.

Affiliations: 1: Zoological Laboratory, University of Groningen, P.O. Box 14, 9750 AA Haren, The Netherlands; 2: Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EJ, England


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