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Domestic hens have declarative representations

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It is generally considered that information can be stored either as a procedural or as a declarative representation. A devaluation technique was used to determine whether hens have declarative representations. Individual hens (Gallus gallus domesticus) were fed in an enclosure with two containers, each with a new food type. One of the food types was devalued by pre-feeding with that food, after which the hens were tested with empty food containers. The pre-feeding should only affect the choice of the hens if they have learned where a particular food type was (declarative representation) rather than “go left when coming into the enclosure” (procedural representation). A significant proportion of the hens went to the location previously occupied by the non-devalued food (seven out of eight). This supports the hypothesis that domestic hens can form declarative representations.

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Received: 6 March 1999 / Accepted after revision: 1 November 2000

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Forkman, B. Domestic hens have declarative representations. Anim Cogn 3, 135–137 (2000).

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