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Publication Date: 2013-02-25

Journal Title: Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science

Publisher: Wiley

Volume: 4

Issue: 4

Pages: 375-390

Language: English

Type: Article

Metadata: Show full item record

Citation: McCabe, B. J. (2013). Imprinting. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science, 4 (4), 375-390.

Description: This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Wiley via

Abstract: Imprinting is a type of learning by which an animal restricts its social preferences to an object after exposure to that object. Filial imprinting occurs shortly after birth or hatching and sexual imprinting, around the onset of sexual maturity; both have sensitive periods. This review is concerned mainly with filial imprinting. Filial imprinting in the domestic chick is an effective experimental system for investigating mechanisms underlying learning and memory. Extensive evidence implicates a restricted part of the chick forebrain, the intermediate and medial mesopallium (IMM), as a memory store for visual imprinting. After imprinting to a visual stimulus, neuronal responsiveness in IMM is specifically biased toward the imprinting stimulus. Both this bias and the strength of imprinting measured behaviorally depend on uninterrupted sleep shortly after training. When learning-related changes in IMM are lateralized they occur predominantly or completely on the left side. Ablation experiments indicate that the left IMM is responsible for long-term storage of information about the imprinting stimulus; the right side is also a store but additionally is necessary for extra storage outside IMM, in a region necessary for flexible use of information acquired through imprinting. Auditory imprinting gives rise to biochemical, neuroanatomical, and electrophysiological changes in the medio-rostral nidopallium/mesopallium, anterior to IMM. Auditory imprinting has not been shown to produce learning-related changes in IMM. Imprinting may be facilitated by predispositions. Similar predispositions for faces and biological motion occur in domestic chicks and human infants. WIREs Cogn Sci 2013, 4:375–390. doi: 10.1002/wcs.1231

Sponsorship: This review is written in memory of the late Sir Gabriel Horn, in recognition of his pioneering work on the neurobiology of imprinting. I am indebted to Robert Levin, Alister Nicol, Revaz Solomonia, Rie Suge, and two anonymous referees for valuable comments on a draft manuscript. The review was written while in receipt of a project grant from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.


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Autor: McCabe, Brian J.



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