Visually inexperienced chicks exhibit spontaneous preference for biological motion patterns

PLoS Biol. 2005 Jul;3(7):e208. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0030208. Epub 2005 Jun 7.


When only a small number of points of light attached to the torso and limbs of a moving organism are visible, the animation correctly conveys the animal's activity. Here we report that newly hatched chicks, reared and hatched in darkness, at their first exposure to point-light animation sequences, exhibit a spontaneous preference to approach biological motion patterns. Intriguingly, this predisposition is not specific for the motion of a hen, but extends to the pattern of motion of other vertebrates, even to that of a potential predator such as a cat. The predisposition seems to reflect the existence of a mechanism in the brain aimed at orienting the young animal towards objects that move semi-rigidly (as vertebrate animals do), thus facilitating learning, i.e., through imprinting, about their more specific features of motion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chickens*
  • Darkness
  • Imprinting, Psychological*
  • Motion Perception*
  • Motor Activity
  • Vision, Ocular / physiology