Young chicks and quails can respond specifically to the call of their own species, a phenomenon referred to as 'inborn species perceptual preference'. In the Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Kevin Long and colleagues at the Neurosciences Institute, San Diego describe experiments designed to dissect the neural basis of auditory perception predisposition.

They transplanted presumptive brain tissue of two bird species — the Japanese quail (Coturnix coturnix japonica) and the domestic chicken (Gallas gallas domesticus) — to create quail-chick chimeras. Sixteen chimeric animals were subjected to a differential approach behavioural assay and their response to speakers playing distinctive chicken or quail calls was measured. Long et al found that some chimeras responded in a chick-like manner. Using a species-specific marker they were able to define a region of the brain which has not been previously associated with...

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