A ground-like surface facilitates visual search in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes).
Tomoko Imura, Masaki Tomonaga
Ground surfaces play an important role in terrestrial species' locomotion and ability to manipulate objects. In humans, ground surfaces have been found to offer significant advantages in distance perception and visual-search tasks (“ground dominance”). The present study used a comparative perspective to investigate the ground-dominance effect in chimpanzees, a species that spends time both on the ground and in trees. During the experiments chimpanzees and humans engaged in a search for a cube on a computer screen; the target cube was darker than other cubes. The search items were arranged on a ground-like or ceiling-like surface, which was defined by texture gradients and shading. The findings indicate that a ground-like, but not a ceiling-like, surface facilitated the search for a difference in luminance among both chimpanzees and humans. Our findings suggest the operation of a ground-dominance effect on visual search in both species.