Prenatal visual experience induces postnatal motor laterality in Japanese quail chicks (Coturnix coturnix japonica): Laterality in Quail

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Species‐typical prenatal visual stimulation in avian species is a necessary component in the development of population level lateralized behaviors. This relationship suggests that species‐typical developmental outcomes result from organismic and environmental constraints and experiences shared by members of a species. We examined the effects of prenatal visual experience on the development of turning bias and footedness in Japanese quail chicks, a species which does not demonstrate a naturally occurring level of population laterality and only weak individual laterality. Chicks (n = 167) were exposed to one of four prenatal conditions: both eye systems exposed to enhanced visual experience, right eye system exposed/left eye system occluded, left eye system exposed/right eye system occluded, or no enhanced visual experience. When subjects were exposed to prenatal visual stimulation, individual and population level laterality was induced. These results suggest that unilateral prenatal visual experience to the right eye or left eye system is sufficient to induce and influence the direction of individual and population laterality in a species that does not normal demonstrate such biases. The results also provide further evidence that prenatal sensory experiences can elicit the development of postnatal lateralization.


lateralization, sensory experience, visual stimulation, avian, Japanese quail

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