Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 212, Issue 4, pp 575–581 | Cite as

The effects of social rearing on preferences formed during filial imprinting and their neural correlates

  • Stephen Michael Town
Research Article


Filial imprinting was originally proposed to be an irreversible process by which a young animal forms a preference for an object experienced early in life. The present study examined the effects of experience after imprinting on the stability of preferences of domestic chicks (Gallus gallus domesticus) for an imprinting stimulus by rearing imprinted chicks socially or in isolation. Chicks reared socially or in isolation retained preferences for the imprinting stimulus; however, social rearing weakened the strength of preferences. The responses of neurons within the intermediate and medial mesopallium—a forebrain region necessary for imprinting were also recorded in socially reared and isolated chicks when presented with the visual component of the imprinting stimulus and novel object. Consistent with existing findings, neurons recorded from isolated chicks responded more strongly to the imprinting stimulus than novel object. However, social rearing diminished the disparity between responses to stimuli such that neurons recorded from socially reared chicks responded similarly to the imprinting stimulus and novel object. These findings suggest that social rearing may impair the retention of preferences formed during imprinting through mechanisms involving the IMM.


Imprinting Learning Memory Neurophysiology IMM Domestic chick 



This work was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Balfour Trust, Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of CambridgeMadingley, CambridgeUK

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