Discrimination of small numerosities in young chicks

J Exp Psychol Anim Behav Process. 2008 Jul;34(3):388-99. doi: 10.1037/0097-7403.34.3.388.


Chicks were trained to discriminate small sets of identical elements. They were then tested for choices (unrewarded) between sets of similar numerosities, when continuous physical variables such as spatial distribution, contour length, and overall surface were equalized. In all conditions chicks discriminated one versus two and two versus three stimulus sets. Similar results were obtained when elements were presented under conditions of partial occlusion. In contrast, with sets of four versus five, four versus six, and three versus four elements chicks seemed unable to discriminate on the basis of number, although nonnumerical discrimination based on perceptual cues was observed. This adds to increasing evidence for discrimination of small numerosities of up to three elements in human infants and nonhuman animals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chickens
  • Cognition
  • Discrimination Learning*
  • Male
  • Mathematics
  • Visual Perception