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Star finches Neochmia ruficauda have a visual preference for white dot patterns: a possible case of trypophilia

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Title: Star finches Neochmia ruficauda have a visual preference for white dot patterns: a possible case of trypophilia
Authors: Mizuno, Ayumi Browse this author
Soma, Masayo Browse this author →KAKEN DB
Keywords: Estrildid finch
Plumage dot pattern
Sensory bias
Sensory exploitation
Signal evolution
Visual attention
Issue Date: 16-Mar-2022
Publisher: Springer
Journal Title: Animal cognition
Volume: 25
Issue: 5
Start Page: 1271
End Page: 1279
Publisher DOI: 10.1007/s10071-022-01609-5
Abstract: Many animals have polka dot patterns on their body surface, some of which are known to have signalling functions; however, their evolutionary origins remain unclear. Dot patterns can trigger a fear response (trypophobia) in humans and are known to function as aposematic signals in non-human animals, suggesting that dots may deserve attention for biological reasons. Interestingly in many birds, plumage dot patterns serve for social/sexual signalling. To understand their evolution, we have focused on the sensory bias hypothesis, which predicts the role of pre-existing sensory preference driven by natural selection in shaping signal design. Our previous phylogenetic comparative study supported the hypothesis and showed that diet-driven visual preference promoted the evolution of plumage patterns, as there was an evolutionary correlation between termite-eating (white roundish gregarious prey) and the presence of plumage dot patterns in species of the family Estrildidae. This suggests that these species possess an intrinsic preference for dots. To test this, we compared the responses of an Estrildid species with dot plumage pattern (star finch Neochmia ruficauda) towards simultaneously presented monochrome-printed white dot vs white stripe patterns under both food-deprived and -supplied conditions. Overall, star finches preferred dots to stripes. They showed foraging-like behaviours almost only toward dots when hungry and gazed at dots frequently even when food was available, suggesting both hunger-related and hunger-neutral dot preferences. These results are rather surprising, given how strongly the subjects were attracted to abstract dot patterns without organic structure, but provided good support for the sensory bias hypothesis.
Type: article
Appears in Collections:理学院・理学研究院 (Graduate School of Science / Faculty of Science) > 雑誌発表論文等 (Peer-reviewed Journal Articles, etc)

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