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Percept Psychophys. 1995 Oct;57(7):971-6.

Perception of partly occluded objects by young chicks.

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University of Padua, Italy.


Completion of partly occluded objects is a ubiquitous phenomenon in human visual perception. It is unclear, however, whether it occurs at all in other species: Studies on visual discrimination learning have revealed that animals usually attend to parts and features of the discriminative stimuli rather than to global object properties. We provide here the first demonstration of recognition of partly occluded objects in a bird species, the domestic chick Gallus gallus, using the naturalistic setting made available by filial imprinting, a process whereby young birds form attachments to their mothers or some artificial substitute. In Experiment 1, newborn chicks were reared singly with a red cardboard triangle, to which they rapidly imprinted and therefore treated as a social partner. On Day 3 of life, the chicks were presented with pairs of objects composed of either isolated fragments or occluded parts of the imprinting stimulus. Chicks consistently chose to associate with complete or with partly occluded versions of the imprinting object rather than with separate fragments of it. Similarly, in Experiment 2, chicks reared with a partly occluded triangle chose to associate with a complete triangle rather than with fragmented one, whereas chicks reared with a fragmented triangle chose to associate with a fragmented triangle and not with a complete one. Newborn chicks thus appear to behave as if they could experience amodal completion.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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