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    Young domestic chicks spontaneously represent the absence of objects

    Szabó, E. and Chiandetti, C. and Téglás, E. and Versace, E. and Csibra, Gergely and Kovács, Á.M. and Vallortigara, G. (2022) Young domestic chicks spontaneously represent the absence of objects. eLife 11 , e67208. ISSN 2050-084X.

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    Abstract

    Absence is a notion that is usually captured by language-related concepts like zero or negation. Whether nonlinguistic creatures encode similar thoughts is an open question, as everyday behavior marked by absence (of food, of social partners) can be explained solely by expecting presence somewhere else. We investigated 8-day-old chicks’ looking behavior in response to events violating expectations about the presence or absence of an object. We found different behavioral responses to violations of presence and absence, suggesting distinct underlying mechanisms. Importantly, chicks displayed an avian signature of novelty detection to violations of absence, namely a sex-dependent left-eye-bias. Follow-up experiments excluded accounts that would explain this bias by perceptual mismatch or by representing the object at different locations. These results suggest that the ability to spontaneously form representations about the absence of objects likely belongs to the initial cognitive repertoire of vertebrate species.

    Metadata

    Item Type: Article
    School: School of Science > Psychological Sciences
    Research Centres and Institutes: Brain and Cognitive Development, Centre for (CBCD)
    Depositing User: Gergo Csibra
    Date Deposited: 18 May 2022 10:40
    Last Modified: 18 May 2022 12:07
    URI: https://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/48035

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