Perception of pictorial human faces by baboons: Effects of stimulus orientation on discrimination performance


  • Martin-Malivel J
  • Fagot J

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The effect of stimulus rotation was assessed in four Guinea baboons (Papio papio), using pictures of familiar human faces presented in a computerized go/no-go task. In Experiment 1, 2 baboons were initially trained to discriminate upright faces, and 2 others were trained to discriminate upside-down faces. For the two groups, postlearning discrimination was impaired when the training faces were rotated 180 degrees. In Experiment 2, upright and upside-down priming faces appeared prior to the display of target faces. For the two groups, response times were faster when the prime and the target faces had the same orientations than when they were depicted under different orientations. Finally, Experiments 3 and 4 identified variations in facial contours as the most salient discriminative cue controlling performance in 2 baboons. Altogether, our results provide no evidence that the baboons processed the pictures as representations of faces. It is suggested that the effect of rotation derived from the encoding of the pictorial faces as meaningless mono-oriented shapes, rather than as natural human faces.

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