Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

How Mammals Learn To Recognise Their Mother

Date:
August 26, 1998
Source:
Netherlands Organization For Scientific Research
Summary:
Up to now, it was unclear how new-born mammals, including human babies, become attached to their mother. A project to clarify this matter therefore was subsidized by the NWO's Social Science Research Council (MAGW). Psychologists at Nijmegen University and biologists at the University of Groningen have now identified interesting behavioural differences between chicks and mammals.

Following on from the work of ethologists such as Konrad Lorenz, biologists and psychologists have carried out a lot of research into how baby chicks and ducklings become attached to their mothers. Chicks can see as soon as they are born and quickly learn to recognise their mother or at least their supposed mother. If the real mother is absent, they even become attached to inanimate objects. This makes possible all sorts of behavioural experiments. Up to now, it was unclear how new-born mammals, including human babies, become attached to their mother. A project to clarify this matter therefore was subsidized by the NWO's Social Science Research Council (MAGW). Psychologists at Nijmegen University and biologists at the University of Groningen have now identified interesting behavioural differences between chicks and mammals.

Related Articles


Experiments with guinea pigs which grew up in isolation with a lifeless object as their surrogate mother showed that the young guinea pigs were not attached to the object. They were not distressed when separated from it, nor did they prefer their "own" object to a novel one. Guinea pigs of a few days old did not distinguish between their actual mother and other lactating females.

The researchers then took baby rats which are blind for the first 12 days and reared them with their mother but separately from other adults. Between 10 and 30 days, the baby rats were required to repeatedly choose between wire cages containing the mother, another lactating female, a lactating female of a different colour, a non-lactating female, a male rat, or an empty cage.The young rats chose other lactating females just as frequently as their actual mother but they went to the lactating females more frequently than to the female without milk. They preferred the latter to the male and the male to the empty cage. It would appear that young rats react to the scent of lactating females but do not yet recognise their mother. Fear of rats other than their own mother seems not to play a role because otherwise they would avoid unknown animals and prefer the empty cage.

Because most mammal mothers make a clear distinction between their own progeny and those of other mothers, it is vital for the young to learn which particular animal is their mother. In an environment where more than one mother is present, they have to learn this very quickly. Instinct alone is insufficient. The learning process presumably is based on trial and error.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Netherlands Organization For Scientific Research. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Netherlands Organization For Scientific Research. "How Mammals Learn To Recognise Their Mother." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 August 1998. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/08/980826082154.htm>.
Netherlands Organization For Scientific Research. (1998, August 26). How Mammals Learn To Recognise Their Mother. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/08/980826082154.htm
Netherlands Organization For Scientific Research. "How Mammals Learn To Recognise Their Mother." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/08/980826082154.htm (accessed October 31, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, October 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Studying Effects of Music on Dementia Patients

Studying Effects of Music on Dementia Patients

AP (Oct. 30, 2014) The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is studying the popular Music and Memory program to see if music, which helps improve the mood of Alzheimer's patients, can also reduce the use of prescription drugs for those suffering from dementia. (Oct. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Techy Tots Are Forefront of London's Baby Show

Techy Tots Are Forefront of London's Baby Show

AP (Oct. 28, 2014) Moms and Dads get a more hands-on approach to parenting with tech-centric products for raising their little ones. (Oct. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cocoa Could Be As Good For Memory As It Is For A Sweet Tooth

Cocoa Could Be As Good For Memory As It Is For A Sweet Tooth

Newsy (Oct. 27, 2014) Researchers have come up with another reason why dark chocolate is good for your health. A substance in the treat can reportedly help with memory. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Five-Year-Olds Learn Coding as Britain Eyes Digital Future

Five-Year-Olds Learn Coding as Britain Eyes Digital Future

AFP (Oct. 27, 2014) Coding has become compulsory for children as young as five in schools across the UK. Making it the first major world economy to overhaul its IT teaching and put programming at its core. Duration: 02:19 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins