About animals

Imprinting in birds and mammals

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At one time we got out for a picnic, and my wife found an almost naked chick. They thought that he was dead: he was cold, but then he, apparently, warmed himself in the hands of his wife and stirred. They left friends, returned home, put this chick in the nest of the mother-in-law canary: she had her own chicks at that time, and she raised him. The chick turned out to be a bullfinch. However, he sings now, like mother-in-law kenar.

Bullfinches are birds that always learn their father’s song. Because, unlike many other chicks, the snowflake girl needs not only to hear her father sing, but also to see him and communicate with him. Under normal conditions, in nature, the nestling's father is a bullfinch. And since the canine brought up the siren, he learned the stepfather’s song.

Nothing wrong with that. If a female appears in the cage, the bullfinch will behave, as expected, will get a family. True, his sons will sing a canary song. And even the grandchildren of this bullfinch will begin to perform the same song.

There are another birds doing the same. These are zebra amadins. If their chicks are raised by a pair of bronze amadines, then they copy the song of their parents.

Young zebra madadins, like bullfinches, learn the song of educators even when birds of their own kind are sounded next to them.

However, unlike the bullfinch, the male zebra amadina, becoming an adult, will address all her courtship to birds of a different species, the one that raised him - bronze amadina. Even if a female of his species is nearby, who greets him with screams, the male does not pay attention to her. He approaches the bronze amadina, and she most often tries to run away from him.

If the male is forced to breed offspring with a female of her own species, and a few years later, in addition to her, she again faces a bronze amadina, the male will again choose her, begin to look after her.

The sisters of this male will also consider the bronze Amadin males to be the best, will try to choose a place on the perch next to them, and not with males of their kind.

This abnormal sexual behavior develops as a result of imprinting - unconscious imprinting - one of the earliest forms of communication.

Imprinting has a huge impact on the behavior of an adult animal, including its choice of sexual partner.

Man is probably the most inappropriate sexual partner for a bird. However, a male jackdaw, raised from a very early age by a man, becoming an adult, loses the ability to be interested in his fellow tribesmen. And when it comes time to choose a bride, look after her, feed her during the matchmaking, the male brings flour worms to the person who raised him. Naturally, a person does not want to eat mealworms, even refuses to take them into his mouth, and then the bird tries to put them in his nose or ear.

No matter how anecdotal it may look, now we know more than twenty-five species of birds that have grown at home, who consider their constricted person.

Sexual imprinting in uglings, in zebras, and in oak-trees takes place relatively early: when these birds are still sitting in the nest. Bullfinches, ravens, ravens make their choice later. Who will be their sexual partner is finally determined before they become adults. In some species of birds, abnormal sexual behavior persists throughout life.

Source: L. Stishkovskaya. "1000 Tips for Treating Pets"

Description of work

Imprinting is a specific form of training in ethology and psychology, it is a psychophysiological mechanism according to which an impression or image, perceived at a certain critical period of development, is firmly imprinted in the brain, turning into a stable behavioral program.
In their fateful discovery of two great zoopsychologists - Lorenz and Heinroth - that they discovered a model for the response of newborn animals to the first moving object. It turned out that such an object - whether it be a parent, another animal or a person, leaves the most vivid impression in the psyche. This was found on the chicks of geese, which were grown in an incubator. So Heinrot, n

What is imprinting?

Imprinting is a specific form of training in ethology and psychology, it is a psychophysiological mechanism according to which an impression or image, perceived at a certain critical period of development, is firmly imprinted in the brain, turning into a stable behavioral program.

In their fateful discovery of two great zoopsychologists - Lorenz and Heinroth - that they discovered a model for the response of newborn animals to the first moving object. It turned out that such an object - whether it be a parent, another animal or a person, leaves the most vivid impression in the psyche. This was found on the chicks of geese, which were grown in an incubator. So, Heinroth, observing the goslings, himself was this very object. As a result, the little chicks did not want to follow their goose mother in any way, but they willingly followed the researcher himself.

An object that is “necessary” to follow may be an inanimate object. For example, Lorenz describes an experiment in which the chicks followed. artificially moved pillow.

Later, a similar phenomenon was described for many species, and perhaps the most pronounced are the marten-like cubs, in particular, ferrets and ermines.

- possible in a fairly limited (sensitive, critical) period of time,

- it is accomplished very quickly (based on the results of a single meeting with the object of capture),

- occurs without food or other reinforcement.

In American psychology, E. Hess formulated the "law of effort":

sealing power is equal to the logarithm of the effort expended by the animal to achieve a significant object during the recording period.

The critical period, also called sensitive, for chickens and goslings lasts only one day, and sometimes even several hours from the moment they are born. The same can be said of those animals whose cubs are already almost independent. Among mammals, lambs, kids, and guinea pigs are born. As for those species in which newborns are born in a helpless state, such as sparrows and pigeons, and among mammals - just dogs and foxes, as well as all primates, their critical period is extended and shifted to later deadlines. This is primarily due to the weakness and helplessness of newborns who need closer and longer contact with their mother, without which they could not survive in natural conditions. There are other forms of imprinting with a more clearly defined critical period, but related to completely different stages of development. This refers to the voice imprinting in the mallards and the imprinting of the mother on the cub in goats.

Imprinting mechanism

There is a theory according to which in the nervous system there is a so-called congenital release mechanism. To bring it into action, receptor stimuli are necessary (visual, olfactory, tactile or other), individual for each animal species and genetically programmed. In fact, imprinting is a transitional form between instinct and a conditioned reflex. Source not specified 453 days. G. Horn’s monograph presents the results of experiments to determine the part of the brain that is responsible for imprinting. The animal was injected with a substance labeled with a radioactive isotope and this substance was monitored in RNA on radiographs. There is also another method: 2-deoxyglucose is introduced into the body and activity is determined by its accumulation in the body. Both methods have proved that the medioventral hyperstriatum is precisely the area that is responsible for the formation of imprinting.

The Importance of Imprinting

Imprinting provides animals with the protection of offspring (following the children of their parents), recognition of parents, community members, relatives, future sexual partners, signs of the area, etc.

The sense of species affiliation is not innate. During the critical stage of primary socialization, “adult” individuals of their species (usually their parents) are “captured” - and on this basis a feeling of belonging to one or another biological species is formed.

In vivo, imprinting is undoubtedly of adaptive value, helping calves to quickly acquire the necessary skills from their parents (for example, learn to fly) and remember the characteristic features of the environment (for example, for salmon this can be the "smell" of the river in which they hatched and where they will come back for spawning).

The following types of imprinting are distinguished:

The goal of social imprinting is the formation of intraspecific and interspecific relationships. Social imprinting includes children's, parental, sexual and species.

Environmental imprinting is the capture of the main features of an animal’s ecological niche (the area around the den and habitat). The newly born animal, whose visual apparatus has just begun to function, is not yet familiar and does not distinguish between “familiar” and “unfamiliar”. But only he (the cub) gets acquainted with the environment, he begins to distinguish some objects from others and shy away from new objects. There is evidence that chimpanzee cubs raised in captivity, in an artificially created depleted environment (in relation to wild relatives), have studied the environment much less, are afraid of new objects and have very little interest in them.

With the help of food imprinting, a young animal receives such important information for it as the availability and quality of food in a given ecological niche, and methods of obtaining it.

Instrumental imprinting has been little studied, which includes various kinds of motor reactions and some pantomimic movements mastered in the sensitive period. Instrumental imprinting is characterized by a rapid process of generating motor reactions.

When the imprinting process is completed, the sensitive period ends, and as a result, it becomes impossible to change its consequences, i.e. upon completion of the process of capturing, the new information received no longer has a significant effect on the young individual. The opinion of the famous physiologist L.G. Voronina: "After the end of this period (imprinting), which probably lasts until puberty, the structure of the brain in all its details reflects the basic volume and quality composition of long-term memory, that is, its alphabet, which will be repeatedly transcoded and recombined throughout the entire life of the body. according to conditionally reflex laws in connection with the needs of the body and changes in the external environment, for example, in adulthood, in any training, we will observe only different options for the formation of processes css reading early recorded information. "

Bird imprinting

The well-known zoopsychologist K. Lorenz showed that the chicks that were born (and not only the chicks) do not yet know who their mother is. At a strictly defined time, a few hours after birth, they have a state of readiness to be sealed, their eyes seem to be looking for: “Who are you, mom? Where are you, Mom? ”Mom admits that it has“ key irritants ”- for goslings, for example, it is something resembling a beak in a moving medium-sized object. Since usually immediately after birth a mother is next to them, they capture her.

But if the researcher removes his mother, sits down instead of her, portraying the beak with something, the goslings recognize him as their mother and after that they are ready to go after him all his childhood. That's it, the capture happened: now show them your real, dear mother - they will not recognize her.

The relationship of parents and offspring in birds is quite original. Surprisingly, any (most importantly, moving) object is more important for an animal than a static stuffed animal of its own kind! Another observation of Lorentz is also interesting. The scientist discovered that birds have certain inherent behavioral patterns. The geese chicks always followed the person in such a way that he was under the same angle of view. Because of this, the cubs when following a man are forced to stay away from him than if they were following their mother - because of the difference in size. When the scientist entered the pond, the chicks followed him, and the deeper he entered the water, the closer they swam. In the end, when the water was up to his neck, the chicks sat on his head.

Such attachments last for a long time, possibly for a lifetime (recently completed studies, however, have shown that they are still partially reversible). In this case, an animal can become a creature completely abnormal in the sense that it loses the ability to be interested in its fellow tribesmen. For example, a person seems to be the most inappropriate sexual partner for a bird. However, the jackdaw grown by Lorenz brought him flour worms, and when the professor, as one can easily imagine, showed a completely understandable human standards unwillingness to eat them, the bird tried to put the worms in his nose or ear. No matter how anecdotal it may look, now there are more than twenty-five species of birds that have been raised at home, who consider humans to be their narrowed.

Sexual imprinting at jackdaws, zebra insects and oak-trees takes place relatively early: when these birds are still sitting in the nest. Bullfinches, ravens, ravens make their choice later. Who will be their sexual partner is finally determined before they become adults.

For example, songbird songs are not their innate voices at all. Males learn to sing when they are still sitting little chicks in the nest, and dad sings nearby. They “capture” the song, but they themselves will not sing until soon - upon reaching puberty. The females will not sing, but they will respond to the songs of their peers - as the sexually significant voices of representatives of their biological species. If the dad doesn’t sing at the nest, the ability to sing in the offspring will not be formed, the individuals will become socially inferior, their participation in reproduction (reproduction) will be distorted or completely impossible.

Or it also happens that the males learn a song of an alien biological species and try to play it - to the extent that their own vocal apparatus allows. The birds that always learn the father’s song include bullfinches. Because the snowflake, unlike many other chicks, needs to not only hear how his father sings, but also be sure to see him, communicate with him. Under normal conditions, in nature, the nestling's father is a bullfinch. And if the snowflake was brought up by the canaries, he will learn the stepfather’s song. Nothing wrong with that. If a female appears in the cage, the bullfinch will behave as it should, get a family. True, his sons will sing a canary song. And even the grandchildren of this bullfinch will perform the same song.

There are another birds doing the same. These are zebra amadins. If their chicks are raised by a pair of bronze amadines, then they copy the song of their parents. Young zebra madadins, like bullfinches, learn the song of educators even when birds of their own kind are sounded near them. However, unlike a bullfinch, a male zebra amadina, becoming an adult, will address all her courtship to birds of a different species, the one that raised him - bronze amadines.Even if there is a female of his species nearby, who greets him with shouts, the male does not pay attention to her. He approaches the bronze amadina, and she most often tries to run away from him. If the male is forced to breed offspring with a female of her own species, and after a few years, in addition to her, she again faces a bronze amadina, the male will again choose her, begin to look after her. The sisters of this male will also consider the bronze amadine males to be the best, will try to choose a place on the perch next to them, and not with males of their kind.

It is also known that the earliest voice recording in birds, for example mallards (duck species), hollows of trees near water bodies. The female, when hatched, emits a characteristic quack, and the ducklings in the egg are imprinted on this sound. When the ducklings hatch, they flee to the voice, wherever the quacking mother is. The ducklings bred in the incubator are not able to recognize the duck's call, and do not follow it into the water.

Imprinting in mammals

Dogs and foxes — especially dogs — have been well studied, and imprinting is a classic example of capturing the type that is characteristic of animals whose offspring are born helpless. In these animals, the critical period is so extended that sometimes it is impossible to establish with accuracy either its beginning or end.

Experiments on raising animals (for example, puppies) are well known, which during a critical period were kept in complete isolation or in isolation from humans, allowing them to contact only with their brothers or other animals: kittens, rabbits, lambs. It turns out that the puppies that were kept during the entire week of the critical period under abnormal conditions subsequently differed in anomalies in relations with their social environment. If they were kept in complete isolation, then they became uncommunicative and fearful, if the puppies grew up in contact only with the person, then later they preferred to be only in his company, and not in the company of dogs, if they communicated with lambs, rabbits or cats, then then they were drawn only to these animals, if they were only among dogs, then they became “ordinary wild dogs” that were afraid of humans. During the critical period, short-term contacts of the puppy with some animal are sufficient, so that then he will establish good relations with the latter. It’s enough, for example, to contact a puppy with a person about twenty-two times a week for him to become completely attached to him.

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