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Factors Affecting Facial Recognition in Capuchin Monkeys

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Comparative Cognition


In many species the face mediates social communication, conveying meaningful information to other individuals. The face is thus a highly important visual stimulus, and many factors are involved in recognizing individuals from facial information. Capuchin monkeys are excellent subjects for studying facial recognition from a comparative perspective because of their intelligence and their highly social nature. Furthermore, they show polymorphic color vision, with groups containing both dichromatic and trichromatic individuals, which provides an opportunity to examine potential effects of color on facial recognition. In this chapter, I describe experimental research on the relationships between color vision and detection of face color modulations in capuchin monkeys. Using face images of familiar individuals, the color of either the left eye, the right eye, or the nose was shifted in a red or blue direction. Face orientation (upright and inverted) and face identity were also manipulated. Trichromatic monkeys showed no greater sensitivity to face color modulation, but face parts, orientation, and identity all affect their accuracy and reaction times in the detection task. These results indicate that facial stimuli appear equally salient to dichromatic and trichromatic individuals, and that social factors such as dominance and kinship affect face processing in capuchin monkeys.

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My sincere and deep gratitude goes to Professor Kazuo Fujita and his enthusiasm for exploring the animal mind. I was always encouraged by his expert advice, and his kindness continues to help people and animals. I am grateful to Dr. Takaaki Kaneko, who gave valuable suggestions for our study. I am also grateful to Professor James Anderson for his kind editing of the manuscript and to Dr. Annika Paukner for helpful suggestions for improving this chapter. This research was supported by a Grant-in-Aid for JSPS Fellows (No. 10 J04395) to C. Hiramatsu and JSPS Grants-in-Aide for Scientific Research Nos. 20220004 and 25240020 to K. Fujita.

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Correspondence to Chihiro Hiramatsu .

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Hiramatsu, C. (2021). Factors Affecting Facial Recognition in Capuchin Monkeys. In: Anderson, J.R., Kuroshima, H. (eds) Comparative Cognition. Springer, Singapore.

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