An automated controlled-rearing method for studying the origins of movement recognition in newly hatched chicks
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Movement recognition is central to visual perception and cognition, yet its origins are poorly understood. Can newborn animals encode and recognize movements at the onset of vision, or does this ability have a protracted developmental trajectory? To address this question, we used an automated controlled-rearing method with a newborn animal model: the domestic chick (Gallus gallus). This automated method made it possible to collect over 150 test trials from each subject. In their first week of life, chicks were raised in controlled-rearing chambers that contained a single virtual agent who repeatedly performed three movements. In their second week of life, we tested whether chicks could recognize the agent’s movements. Chicks successfully recognized both individual movements and sequences of movements. Further, chicks successfully encoded the order that movements occurred within a sequence. These results indicate that newborn visual systems can encode and recognize movements at the onset of vision and argue for an increased focus on automated controlled-rearing methods for studying the emergence of perceptual and cognitive abilities.
KeywordsControlled rearing Movement recognition Newborn Chicken Gallus gallus Automation
We thank Samantha M. W. Wood for assistance on this manuscript and Aditya Prasad, Tony Bouz, and Lynette Tan for their assistance building the controlled-rearing chambers. This research was funded by National Science Foundation CAREER Grant BCS-1351892 to J. N. W. The experiments were approved by The University of Southern California Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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