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Proc Biol Sci. 2009 Jul 7;276(1666):2451-60. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2009.0044. Epub 2009 Apr 1.

Arithmetic in newborn chicks.

Author information

  • 1Center for Mind/Brain Sciences, University of Trento, Corso Bettini 31, 38068 Rovereto, Italy. rosa.rugani@unipd.it

Abstract

Newly hatched domestic chicks were reared with five identical objects. On days 3 or 4, chicks underwent free-choice tests in which sets of three and two of the five original objects disappeared (either simultaneously or one by one), each behind one of two opaque identical screens. Chicks spontaneously inspected the screen occluding the larger set (experiment 1). Results were confirmed under conditions controlling for continuous variables (total surface area or contour length; experiment 2). In the third experiment, after the initial disappearance of the two sets (first event, FE), some of the objects were visibly transferred, one by one, from one screen to the other (second event, SE). Thus, computation of a series of subsequent additions or subtractions of elements that appeared and disappeared, one by one, was needed in order to perform the task successfully. Chicks spontaneously chose the screen, hiding the larger number of elements at the end of the SE, irrespective of the directional cues provided by the initial (FE) and final (SE) displacements. Results suggest impressive proto-arithmetic capacities in the young and relatively inexperienced chicks of this precocial species.

PMID:
19364746
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2690459
Free PMC Article
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