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acquisition of behavior in many animal species, in which, at a critical period early in life, the animals form strong and lasting attachments. Imprinting is important for normal social development. The term was first used by the zoologist Konrad Lorenz to describe the way in which the social characteristics of greylag geese and other fowl become instilled in their young offspring (see ethologyethology,
study of animal behavior based on the systematic observation, recording, and analysis of how animals function, with special attention to physiological, ecological, and evolutionary aspects.
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). In natural circumstances imprinting, to the mother, food, or surroundings, occurs instinctively during a biologically fixed time span; it is very difficult to extinguish. Under experimental conditions chicks and ducklings readily become imprinted to an appropriate model such as a moving decoy or a human being. Subsequent learning may be tied to and reinforced by the imprinted object, and later social behaviors, such as the greeting ceremony and courtship, may be directed exclusively to the mother-substitute. In fowl, attachment increases with the amount of effort the offspring must exert to follow the imprinted object. The onset of fear in an organism is believed to end the period of imprintability. There is evidence that in fowl the imprinting period begins before hatching and is characterized by vocal communication between mother and unhatched ducklings.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



in ethology (the science of animal behavior), a specific form of learning in animals; the fixation in the animal’s memory of the distinctive features of objects at which instinctive behavioral actions are directed. Such objects are the parents (simultaneously serving as bearers of the characteristic traits of the species), siblings (offspring of the same litter), future sexual partners (male or female), food (including prey), and natural enemies (the external appearance of the enemy is imprinted in conjunction with the warning cries of the parents), as well as, possibly, the characteristic traits of the usual place of habitation (birth). The best studied and most noticeable form of imprinting is the following response of newly hatched birds or mammal offspring, whereby they follow their parents or one another. The fixation in imprinting of the distinctive features of objects usually occurs in the early stages of life, most often soon after birth, and is possible only during a definite, limited period—the “sensitive” or “critical” period. As a rule, the result of imprinting cannot be changed in the future (the “irreversibility” of the results of imprinting).

The term “imprinting” in traditional psychology is used in the sense of the fixation of certain information in the memory.


Slonim, A. D. Osnovy obshchei ekologicheskoi fiziologii mlekopitaiushchikh. Moscow-Leningrad, 1961.
Tinbergen, N. Povedenie zhivotnykh. Moscow, 1969. (Translated from English.)
Lorenz, K. Über tierisches und menschliches Verhalten, vols. 1–2. Munich, 1965.
Sluckin, W. Imprinting and Early Learning. Chicago, 1965.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


The very rapid development of a response or learning pattern to a stimulus at an early and usually critical period of development; particularly characteristic of some species of birds.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
Sexual imprinting does not completely eliminate gene flow between populations subjected to regular migratory events and hence cannot by itself result in speciation.
Starting as a small backyard platemaking business in 1979, Imprinting Systems has demonstrated continuous growth, now currently running three Mark Andy flexo presses plus the Digital One inline digital printing and converting solution.
The substrates (L-Phe or D-Phe used as template during the synthesis of membrane) after removal left imprinting cavities and channels (corresponding to the size and shape of L-Phe or D-Phe).
To gauge the effect off the loss of imprinting control on the maintenance of the quiescent hematopoietic stem cell pool, Venkatraman analyzed the numbers of quiescent, active and differentiated hematopoietic stem cells in mouse bone marrow.
That method sidestepped the problem of genomic imprinting but presents ethical and practical hurdles if this technology were to ever be considered for humans.
Powell, "Fluorescent functional recognition sites through molecular imprinting. A polymer-based fluorescent chemosensor for aqueous cAMP," Analytical Chemistry, vol.
The most common method for providing the MIPs in order to SPE plans utilizes non-covalent imprinting which comforts quickly adsorption and deliverance of analyte [18, 22, 26, 31].
Gagne6 in his instructional planning steps calls for gaining the attention of the learner; this signals the start of the cognitive imprinting process.
Moreover, genomic imprinting has brought into focus a new dimension to the model of mammalian evolution through the identification of two Pegs, Peg10 and Peg11/Rtl1, which play an essential role in mammalian development via the formation and maintenance of a mammalian-specific placenta, respectively, because these two genes are mammalian-specific genes derived from an LTR-retrotransposon.
It is not known whether there is specific machinery for XIST repression or whether there is only cell selection against XIST-expressing cells; however, the control of XIST expression is more important for cell survival than the control of genomic imprinting. Nonetheless, our data indicate that DNMT3A might be responsible for XIST silencing in DKO cells, since DNA methylation levels are increased at the XIST locus in these cells, despite the absence of any other known active DNA methyltransferase.
Exceptions to this generalization were found in fibroadenoma, it required less pressure for imprinting and also the imprints were more cellular than other benign imprints.
Molecular imprinting is a tool for synthesizing tailor-designed molecular recognition sites in polymers structured at micrometer and nanometer scales.