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Since Lorenz discovery of obedient imprinting in 1935 the interpretation of this behavioral phenomenon has changed several times Lorenz himself always emphasized the distinctive nature of imprinting processes the main variants filial sexual food and habitat when compared with other kinds of learning However today we speak of sensitive rather critical periods and we now know that secondary imprinted attachments can be as stable as primary ones thereby limiting the impact of assumed reversibility Nevertheless in his study of imprinting Lorenz did more than describe a new and special category of behavior he was the first to understand how specific genetic constraints can define the structure of a learning mechanism Consistent with there being specialized learning mechanisms twenty years later using rats John Garcia 1955 demonstrated for the first time that not every case of associative learning can be explained by simply referring to a small set of general or even universal learning rules Meanwhile it has been argued that it is possible to conclusively resolve the misleading innateacquired dichotomy by treating phylogeny as the exclusive source of ontogenetic novelties Heschl 1990 This explains how once the ultimate functions of a behavior pattern in a particular species is understood it is possible to predict the necessary proximate structure of that behavior The experiments that Konrad Lorenz performed on animals were to demonstrate that critical periods in development do exist The early trendsetting study done by Lorenz 1957 was to help describe imprinting in goslings He showed that the newborn goslings would adopt in the first few hours after hatching any object as their mother This tendency to imprint an attachment to a mother - object occurs during a very short span of time - hence the term critical period Other investigators Hebb 1947 Riesen 1958 Thompson and Heron 1954 discovered that if animals were kept under conditions of sensory deprivation eg total darkness when young either they were permanently retarded in their development or
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