Visual discrimination of normal and drug induced behavior in quails (Coturnix coturnix japonica)

Anim Cogn. 2004 Apr;7(2):128-32. doi: 10.1007/s10071-003-0196-5. Epub 2003 Oct 10.


The ability to discriminate the physical states of others could be an adaptive behavior, especially for social animals. For example, the ability to discriminate illness behavior would be helpful for avoiding spoiled foods. We report on an experiment with Japanese quails testing whether these birds can discriminate the physical states of conspecifics. The quails were trained to discriminate between moving video images of quails injected with psychoactive drugs and those in a normal (not injected) condition. Methamphetamine (stimulant) or ketamine (anesthetic) were used to produce drug-induced behaviors in conspecifics. The former induced hyperactive behavior and the latter hypoactive behavior. The subject quails could learn the discrimination and showed generalization to novel images of the drug-induced behaviors. They did not, however, show discriminative behavior according to the type and dosage of the drugs. Thus, they categorized the behavior not on the basis of degree of activity, but on the basis of abnormality.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects*
  • Classification
  • Coturnix / physiology*
  • Discrimination Learning*
  • Generalization, Psychological*
  • Ketamine / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Methamphetamine / pharmacology
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual*
  • Video Recording
  • Visual Perception


  • Methamphetamine
  • Ketamine