Auditory-visual intermodal matching based on individual recognition in a chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes)

Laura Martinez, Tetsuro Matsuzawa
DOI: 10.1007/s10071-009-0269-1


The ability to recognize familiar individuals with different sensory modalities plays an important role in animals living in complex physical and social environments. Individual recognition of familiar individuals was studied in a female chimpanzee named Pan. In previous studies, Pan learned an auditory-visual intermodal matching task (AVIM) consisting of matching vocal samples with the facial pictures of corresponding vocalizers (humans and chimpanzees). The goal of this study was to test whether Pan was able to generalize her AVIM ability to new sets of voice and face stimuli, including those of three infant chimpanzees. Experiment 1 showed that Pan performed intermodal individual recognition of familiar adult chimpanzees and humans very well. However, individual recognition of infant chimpanzees was poorer relative to recognition of adults. A transfer test with new auditory samples (Experiment 2) confirmed the difficulty in recognizing infants. A remaining question was what kind of cues were crucial for the intermodal matching. We tested the effect of visual cues (Experiment 3) by introducing new photographs representing the same chimpanzees in different visual perspectives. Results showed that only the back view was difficult to recognize, suggesting that facial cues can be critical. We also tested the effect of auditory cues (Experiment 4) by shortening the length of auditory stimuli, and results showed that 200 ms vocal segments were the limit for correct recognition. Together, these data demonstrate that auditory-visual intermodal recognition in chimpanzees might be constrained by the degree of exposure to different modalities and limited to specific visual cues and thresholds of auditory cues.


Chimpanzee, Individual recognition, Auditory-visual intermodal matching, Face recognition, Pant hoot vocalization

Article Information
Martinez L, Matsuzawa T(2009)Auditory-visual intermodal matching based on individual recognition in a chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) Animal Cognition, 12, S71-S85.