Rudimental numerical competence in 5-day-old domestic chicks (Gallus gallus): identification of ordinal position

J Exp Psychol Anim Behav Process. 2007 Jan;33(1):21-31. doi: 10.1037/0097-7403.33.1.21.


Numerical competencies were investigated for the 1st time in very young nonhuman animals. Chicks (Gallus gallus) learned to identify the 3rd, 4th, or 6th positions in a series of 10 identical positions (Experiment 1). Use of spatial information (i.e., distances) was ruled out in Experiment 2 (chicks generalized the reinforced response to an array of stimuli rotated by 90 degrees as compared with training) and Experiment 3 (chicks generalized their response to a series in which distances between the single positions had been manipulated). Chicks found the correct position even when both identity and distance of each position changed from trial to trial (Experiment 4). Overall, young chicks seemed to use ordinality when required to identify a target by its numerical serial position.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Attention
  • Chickens*
  • Discrimination Learning
  • Distance Perception
  • Generalization, Response
  • Male
  • Mathematics*
  • Orientation
  • Problem Solving*
  • Serial Learning*