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Dev Growth Differ. 2013 Jan;55(1):198-206. doi: 10.1111/dgd.12028.

Neural basis of imprinting behavior in chicks.

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1
Division of Biology, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Kitasato University, Sagamihara, Kanagawa, Japan.

Abstract

Newly hatched chicks memorize the characteristics of the first moving object they encounter, and subsequently show a preference for it. This "imprinting" behavior is an example of infant learning and is elicited by visual and/or auditory cues. Visual information of imprinting stimuli in chicks is first processed in the visual Wulst (VW), a telencephalic area corresponding to the mammalian visual cortex, congregates in the core region of the hyperpallium densocellulare (HDCo) cells, and transmitted to the intermediate medial mesopallium (IMM), a region similar to the mammalian association cortex. The imprinting memory is stored in the IMM, and activities of IMM neurons are altered by imprinting. Imprinting also induces functional and structural plastic changes of neurons in the circuit that links the VW and the IMM. Of these neurons, the activity of the HDCo cells is strongly influenced by imprinting. Expression and modulation of NR2B subunit-containing N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors in the HDCo cells are crucial for plastic changes in this circuit as well as the process of visual imprinting. Thus, elucidation of cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the plastic changes that occurred in the HDCo cells may provide useful knowledge about infant learning.

PMID:
23294362
DOI:
10.1111/dgd.12028
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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