, Volume 48, Issue 1, pp 1–12 | Cite as

Visual search for orientation of faces by a chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes): face-specific upright superiority and the role of facial configural properties

  • Masaki Tomonaga
Original Article


A previous experiment showed that a chimpanzee performed better in searching for a target human face that differed in orientation from distractors when the target had an upright orientation than when targets had inverted or horizontal orientation [Tomonaga (1999a) Primate Res 15:215–229]. This upright superiority effect was also seen when using chimpanzee faces as targets but not when using photographs of a house. The present study sought to extend these results and explore factors affecting the face-specific upright superiority effect. Upright superiority was shown in a visual search for orientation when caricaturized human faces and dog faces were used as stimuli for the chimpanzee but not when shapes of a hand and chairs were presented. Thus, the configural properties of facial features, which cause an inversion effect in face recognition in humans and chimpanzees, were thought to be a source of the upright superiority effect in the visual search process. To examine this possibility, various stimuli manipulations were introduced in subsequent experiments. The results clearly show that the configuration of facial features plays a critical role in the upright superiority effect, and strongly suggest similarity in face processing in humans and chimpanzees.


Visual Search Facial Feature Visual Search Task Facial Stimulus Configural Processing 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This study and preparation of the manuscript were financially supported by Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research from the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS; Grant # 04710053, 05206113, 05710050, 07102010, 09207105, 10CE2005, 12002009, 13610086, 16002001, 16300084) and MEXT Grants-in-Aid for the 21st Century COE Program (A14 and D10). The author wishes to thank Drs. Tetsuro Matsuzawa and Masayuki Tanaka for their valuable comments on this study. Thanks are also due to Sumiharu Nagumo for his technical support and to Kiyonori Kumazaki, Norihiko Maeda, and the staff of the Center for Human Evolution Modeling Research of the Primate Research Institute (PRI) for their care of the chimpanzees.


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Copyright information

© Japan Monkey Centre and Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Language and Intelligence Section, Primate Research InstituteKyoto UniversityInuyama, KanrinJapan

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