Japanese scientists have found that thyroid hormones can help newborn birds remember their parents.
Researchers at Teikyo University in Tokyo injected thyroid hormones in chicks and found that the learning process called imprinting lasted 4 to 6 days after hatching. The process usually lasts 3 days.
They also found that injected chicks can better distinguish colors.
The researchers say they hope that since humans need to learn perfect pitch and sociality in childhood, the study will help unravel the mechanisms of learning.
The group’s leader, Professor Koichi Honma, says the study shows that it may be possible to artificially extend infants’ period of learning music or sociability.
Honma says his group will continue to study the relationship between hormones and learning.
The results of the study were published in a British online scientific journal.
NHK World, Sep. 26, 2012