Modified postnatal social experience alters intersensory development of bobwhite quail chicks
Recent studies have begun to explore the features of perinatal experience which facilitate infants’ abilities to integrate information from the various sensory modalities. The present study utilized a precocial avian infant, the bobwhite quail (Colinus virginianus), to explore 1) what types of postnatal social experience young chicks require to successfully pair sights and sounds and 2) when these experiences need to occur to maintain species-typical intersensory development. Specifically, chicks in this study were reared in one of four conditions: with normal siblings, with altered tactile experience, with altered auditory experience, or with altered visual experience. Findings revealed that altered tactile, auditory, and visual experience presented throughout the first 72 hrs of postnatal development delays chicks’ ability to integrate maternal auditory and visual information at 72 hrs of age, a response reliably seen in unmanipulated chicks. Furthermore, results showed that altered sensory experience in any modality presented during the first 36 hrs of postnatal development delays intersensory responsiveness. Altered tactile or auditory sensory information presented during the last 36 hrs of postnatal development also disrupted normal perceptual development, while altered visual information presented during the last 36 hrs of postnatal development failed to disrupt species-typical responsiveness. These findings suggest that normal sensory experience derived from social interaction is important for normal species-typical development.