Accurate memory for colour but not pattern contrast in chicks

Osorio, Daniel, Jones, Carl D and Vorobyev, Misha (1999) Accurate memory for colour but not pattern contrast in chicks. Current Biology, 9. pp. 199-202. ISSN 0960-9822

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The visual displays of animals and plants often look dramatic and colourful to us, but what information do they convey to their intended, non-human, audience [1] and [2]? One possibility is that stimulus values are judged accurately ¿ so, for example, a female might choose a suitor if he displays a specific colour [3]. Alternatively, as for human advertising, displays may attract attention without giving information, perhaps by exploiting innate preferences for bright colours or symmetry [2], [4] and [5]. To address this issue experimentally, we investigated chicks¿ memories of visual patterns. Food was placed in patterned paper containers which, like seed pods or insect prey, must be manipulated to extract food and their patterns learnt. To establish what was learnt, birds were tested on familiar stimuli and on alternative stimuli of differing colour or contrast. For colour, birds selected the trained stimulus; for contrast, they preferred high contrast patterns over the familiar. These differing responses to colour and contrast show how separate components of display patterns could serve different roles, with colour being judged accurately whereas pattern contrast attracts attention.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Life Sciences > Evolution, Behaviour and Environment
Depositing User: Daniel ColacoOsorio
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 20:08
Last Modified: 21 Mar 2012 13:30
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