The Cognitive Chicken

Giorgio Vallortigara

in The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Cognition

Second edition

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780195392661
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 The Cognitive Chicken

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This chapter reviews studies over the past 20 years using non-mammalian species (mainly the domestic chicken), addressing issues that were largely inspired by the European Gestalt tradition rather than by the psychology of animal learning, which has provided the typical background of most contemporary comparative psychology. Chicks possess quite remarkable cognitive abilities that can be revealed using as tools those forms of early learning that have been the concern of classic ethologists and early comparative psychologists. This evidence, together with reasonable knowledge of the chick’s neuroanatomy, can allow investigators of the brain–mind relationship to proceed a step further, moving from investigation of the neural basis of simple basic learning abilities (imprinting, passive avoidance learning) to cognitive phenomena that have direct counterparts in humans, such as completion of partly occluded objects, biological motion perception, and object and spatial representations.

Keywords: domestic chicken; visual cognition; spatial cognition; Gestalt tradition; comparative psychology

Article.  12705 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology ; Cognitive Neuroscience

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