Gaze alternation during “pointing” by squirrel monkeys (Saimiri sciureus)?
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Gaze alternation (GA) is considered a hallmark of pointing in human infants, a sign of intentionality underlying the gesture. GA has occasionally been observed in great apes, and reported only anecdotally in a few monkeys. Three squirrel monkeys that had previously learned to reach toward out-of-reach food in the presence of a human partner were videotaped while the latter visually attended to the food, a distractor object, or the ceiling. Frame-by-frame video analysis revealed that, especially when reaching toward the food, the monkeys rapidly and repeatedly switched between looking at the partner’s face and the food. This type of GA suggests that the monkeys were communicating with the partner. However, the monkeys’ behavior was not influenced by changes in the partner’s focus of attention.
KeywordsGaze alternation Squirrel monkeys Pointing Attention Communication
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