Dataset for: The motion of a living conspecific activates septal and preoptic areas in naive domestic chicks (Gallus gallus)

Predispositions to attend to animate objects are ubiquitous in newborn vertebrates but little is known about their neural bases. In the present study we wanted to know if exposure to the motion of an alive, behaving conspecific will selectively activate septal, preoptic and amygdaloid areas in visually naive domestic chicks. For this purpose, newly hatched chicks were exposed to an alive conspecific, whose natural motion presents of course several features typical of animate motion to which chicks are known to be sensitive. In the control group, chicks were exposed to a rotating stuffed chick, that showed rigid non-biological motion. The two stimuli were visually matched with regards to their static features. We measured brain activity by visualizing the immediate early gene product c-Fos with a standard immunohistochemical procedure. Notably, dorsal right septum and left preoptic area showed higher activation in experimental subjects compared to the control animals. This is, to the best of our knowledge, the first demonstration of septal and preoptic areas involvement in response to the animate motion of a social partner, as opposed to rigid motion of a similarly looking stimulus. Moreover, these results indicate that previous visual experience and specific learning events are not necessary to establish the septal and preoptic areas function, which is present shortly after birth.