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Animal Behavi11 - They need to follow something for their...

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Animal Behavior: Learning Imprinting The first thing a certain brood of baby geese saw when they hatched was Conrad Lorenz, one of the first great behavioral theorists. As young geese, they followed him everywhere he went and became sexually attracted to him as adults. The baby geese had imprinted on Lorenz. In the process of filial imprinting, the imprinting of offspring on their parents, there is a critical period for learning that is irreversible once something has been imprinted upon. The hatchling geese imprinted on Conrad Lorenz, and nothing could de-imprint them. Ducklings have also been known to imprint on people. Both ducks and geese are precocial birds. Unlike altricial birds, which are helpless for several weeks after hatching, precocial birds quickly start walking around.
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Unformatted text preview: They need to follow something for their own safety and thus imprinting is vital to their early survival. The concept of a critical period for learning is not restricted to imprinting, nor to geese. Songbirds have a critical period for song learning, as we will see in Signaling and Communication . Humans also seem to have a critical learning period. In children age 4 years and younger, learning a language is almost effortless. No class is needed, no specific instruction; they pick it up on their own. After age 13, it is much more difficult to learn a language. For older people, it is virtually impossible to learn to speak as well as a native....
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