Comparison of grouping abilities in humans (Homo sapiens) and baboons (Papio papio) with the Ebbinghaus illusion


  • Parron Carole
  • Fagot Joël

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This research comparatively assessed grouping mechanisms of humans (n = 8) and baboons (n = 8) in an illusory task that employs configurations of target and surrounding circles arranged to induce the Ebbinghaus (Titchener) illusion. Analyses of response behaviors and points of subjective equality demonstrated that only humans misjudged the central target size under the influence of the Ebbinghaus illusion, whereas baboons expressed a more veridical perception of target sizes. It is argued that humans adopted a global mode of stimulus processing of the illusory figure in our task that has favored the illusion. By contrast, a strong local mode of stimulus processing with attention restricted to the target must have prevented illusory effects in baboons. These findings suggest that monkeys and humans have evolved modes of object recognition that do not similarly rely on the same gestalt principles.

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