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Efficient search for a face by chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes)

Masaki Tomonaga, Tomoko Imura
DOI: 10.1038/srep11437
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The face is quite an important stimulus category for human and nonhuman primates in their social lives. Recent advances in comparative-cognitive research clearly indicate that chimpanzees and humans process faces in a special manner; that is, using holistic or configural processing. Both species exhibit the face-inversion effect in which the inverted presentation of a face deteriorates their perception and recognition. Furthermore, recent studies have shown that humans detect human faces among non-facial objects rapidly. We report that chimpanzees detected chimpanzee faces among non-facial objects quite efficiently. This efficient search was not limited to own-species faces. They also found human adult and baby faces-but not monkey faces-efficiently. Additional testing showed that a front-view face was more readily detected than a profile, suggesting the important role of eye-to-eye contact. Chimpanzees also detected a photograph of a banana as efficiently as a face, but a further examination clearly indicated that the banana was detected mainly due to a low-level feature (i.e., color). Efficient face detection was hampered by an inverted presentation, suggesting that configural processing of faces is a critical element of efficient face detection in both species. This conclusion was supported by a simple simulation experiment using the saliency model.


Neuroscience, Psychology

Article Information
Tomonaga M, Imura T(2015)Efficient search for a face by chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) Scientific Reports, 5, 11437.
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