Context-Specific Habituation of the Freezing Response in Newborn Chicks
Previous studies have found that in mature animals habituation is context-specific in some species but not in others. Given the mixed evidence present in the literature, we decided to explore whether habituation is context-specific in newborn chicks. The results showed that 3 days after hatching, chicks were capable of using global contextual information to rapidly habituate their freezing response to a series of sudden acoustic stimuli. Our study is the 1st to show context-specific habituation in this avian species, a result in agreement with those of previous findings in adult male zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata). Furthermore, although our study does not intend to provide a systematic investigation of the ontogeny of habituation in this species, our findings show that a few days after hatching, juvenile chicks are capable of a sophisticated associative learning process that takes into account complex environmental information.