Social cognition and learning mechanisms: Experimental evidence in domestic chicks

Interaction Studies 12 (2):208-232 (2011)
Abstract
In this paper we review the literature on social learning mechanisms in the domestic chick, focusing largely on work from our own laboratories. The domestic chicken is a social-living bird that searches for food in flocks, avoids predators by following warnings from other flock members, and forms (stable) social hierarchies. All of these behaviors develop throughout ontogeny, largely during the very early stages post-hatch. Newly hatched chicks appear to have predispositions to orient towards and to pay greatest attention to the biologically relevant characteristics of their immediate environment (i.e. to conspecifics: the mother bird and/or fellow hatchlings) from which they may subsequently learn. In addition, the chick has a lateralized brain; left and right hemispheres being specialized for certain behavioral functions and responses, and it appears that such behavioral lateralization is also transposed onto certain social learning situations, which will also be considered. Keywords: social learning; social cognition; chick; brain asymmetry
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