Evolutionary relevance and experience contribute to face discrimination in infant macaques (Macaca mulatta)

Simpson, E.A., Suomi, S.J. and Paukner, A. ORCID: 0000-0002-3421-1864, 2016. Evolutionary relevance and experience contribute to face discrimination in infant macaques (Macaca mulatta). Journal of Cognition and Development, 17 (2), pp. 285-299. ISSN 1524-8372

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In human children and adults, familiar face types—typically own-age and own-species faces—are discriminated better than other face types; however, human infants do not appear to exhibit an own-age bias but instead better discriminate adult faces, which they see more often. There are two possible explanations for this pattern: Perceptual attunement predicts advantages in discrimination for the most experienced face types. Additionally or alternatively, there may be an experience-independent bias for infants to discriminate own-species faces, an adaptation for evolutionarily relevant faces. These possibilities have not been disentangled in studies thus far, and these studies did not control infants’ early experiences with faces. In the present study, we tested these predictions in infant macaques (Macaca mulatta) reared under controlled environments, not exposed to adult conspecifics. We measured newborns’ (15–25 days; n = 27) and 6- to 7-month-olds’ (n = 35) discrimination of human and macaque faces at 3 ages—young infants, old infants, and adults—in a visual paired comparison task. We found that 6- to 7-month-olds were the best at discriminating adult macaque faces; however, in the first few seconds of looking, tthey additionally discriminated familiar face types—same-aged peer and adult human faces—thereby highlighting the importance of experience with certain face categories. The present data suggest that macaque infants possess both experience-independent and experientially tuned face biases. In human infants, early face skills may likewise be driven by both experience and evolutionary relevance; future studies should consider both of these factors.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Journal of Cognition and Development
Creators: Simpson, E.A., Suomi, S.J. and Paukner, A.
Publisher: Psychology Press
Date: 2016
Volume: 17
Number: 2
ISSN: 1524-8372
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Jonathan Gallacher
Date Added: 24 Jan 2019 14:05
Last Modified: 11 Apr 2019 14:53
URI: https://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/35677

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