SENSITIVITY TO SOCIAL VISUAL CUES IN THE DOMESTIC CHICK
We report recently obtained evidence concerning newborn chicksâ€™ predispositions to attend to social stimuli, considering in particular two types of visual cues characterising such stimuli: facial features and self propelled motion. Visually naÃ¯ve chicks presented for the very first time with face-like vs. non-face-like controlled stimuli show a spontaneous preference to approach faces, and, when briefly presented with objects that exhibit either self-produced motion or motion caused by physical contact, prefer then to associate with self-propelled objects. The role of several perceptual properties was also considered. Symmetry/asymmetry, spatial frequencies, contrast polarity and orientation of features representing the comb were analyzed with regards to face preferences. Spatiotemporal cues were considered with regards to sensitivity to self propelled motion. Overall, our findings support the existence of evolutionarily ancient, predisposed neural mechanisms in the vertebrate brain for the analysis of socially relevant cues.