Visual Attention in Birds and Primates
Visual attention plays a fundamental role in avian flight but attention is likely limited whenever birds blink. Because blinks are necessary to maintaining proper vision, we tested the hypothesis that birds strategically inhibit their blinks in flight. The blinks of captive great-tailed grackles (Quiscalus mexicanus) were recorded before, during and after they flew a short distance in an open environment. The grackles spent the least amount of time blinking in flight (take-off, during flight and landing) and the most amount of time blinking at impact. Their blinking behaviour was similar before and after flight. These results suggest that grackles strategically inhibit their blinking behaviour in flight, potentially because blinks impose costs to avian flight.
Mate-choice copying occurs when animals rely on the mating choices of others to inform their own mating decisions but the proximate mechanisms underlying mate choice copying remain unknown. To address this question, we tracked the gaze of men and women as they viewed a series of photographs in which a potential mate was pictured beside an opposite-sex partner; the participants then indicated their willingness to engage in a long-term relationship with each potential mate. We found that both men and women expressed more interest in engaging in a relationship with a potential mate if that mate was paired with an attractive partner. Men and women’s attention to partners varied with partner attractiveness and this gaze attraction influenced their subsequent mate choices. These results highlight the prevalence of non-independent mate choice in humans and implicate social attention and reward circuitry in these decisions.