The effects of the visual environment on responses to colour by domestic chicks

Miklosi, A, Gonda, Z S, Osorio, D and Farzin, A (2002) The effects of the visual environment on responses to colour by domestic chicks. Journal of Comparative Physiology A: Neuroethology, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology, 188. pp. 135-140. ISSN 0340-7594

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It is well known that development of vision is affected by experience, but there are few studies of environmental effects on colour vision. Natural scenes contain predominantly a restricted range of reflectance spectra, so such effects might be important, perhaps biasing visual mechanisms towards common colours. We investigated how the visual environment affects colour preferences of domestic chicks (Gallus gallus), by training week-old birds to select small food containers distinguished from an achromatic alternative either by an orange or by a greenish-blue colour. Chicks that had been raised in control conditions, with long-wavelength-dominated reflectance spectra, responded more readily to orange than to blue. This was not due to avoidance of blue, as increasing saturation enhanced the chicks' preference for the same hue. The advantage of orange was, however, reduced or abolished for chicks raised in an environment dominated by blue objects. This indicates that responses to coloured food are affected by experience of non-food objects. If colours of ordinary objects in the environment do influence responses to specialised visual signals this might help explain why biological signals directed at birds are often coloured yellow, orange or red; long-wavelength-dominated spectra being more prevalent than short-wavelength-dominated spectra.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Life Sciences > Evolution, Behaviour and Environment
Depositing User: Daniel ColacoOsorio
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 18:26
Last Modified: 02 May 2012 16:12
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