Experience and geometry: controlled-rearing studies with chicks


Animals can reorient making use of the geometric shape of an environment, i.e., using sense and metric properties of surfaces. Animals reared soon after birth either in circular or in rectangular enclosures (and thus affording different experiences with metric properties of the spatial layout) showed similar abilities when tested for spatial reorientation in a rectangular enclosure. Thus, early experience in environments with different geometric characteristics does not seem to affect animals’ ability to reorient using sense and metric information. However, some results seem to suggest that when geometric and non-geometric information are set in conflict, rearing experience could affect the relative dominance of featural (landmark) and geometric information. In three separate experiments, newborn chicks reared either in circular- or in rectangular-shaped home-cages were tested for spatial reorientation in a rectangular enclosure, with featural information provided either by panels at the corners or by a blue-coloured wall. At test, when faced with affine transformations in the arrangement of featural information that contrasted with the geometric information, chicks showed no evidence of any effect of early experience on their relative use of geometric and featural information for spatial reorientation. These findings suggest that, at least for this highly precocial species, the ability to deal with geometry seems to depend more on predisposed mechanisms than on learning and experience after hatching.

DOI: 10.1007/s10071-009-0297-x

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@article{Chiandetti2009ExperienceAG, title={Experience and geometry: controlled-rearing studies with chicks}, author={Cinzia Chiandetti and Giorgio Vallortigara}, journal={Animal Cognition}, year={2009}, volume={13}, pages={463-470} }