Thursday, 15 May 2014

Inherited Reflexes

Lorikeet chicks have reflexes that become altered by experience.  For example, on seeing any sudden nearby movement while feeding, a chick will automatically take to flight in the opposite direction, while adults will continue feeding regardless.

This raises the question of whether lorikeets inherit reflexes to their own alarm calls — i.e. to their own semiotic system — or whether the flight response is learned through experience, as by imitating others.  It sometimes seems as though such a flight response is not under their immediate control, since some birds will sometimes shut down the flight response moments after the initial reaction, as if regaining control.

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