Abstract # 2126 Event # 5:

Scheduled for Thursday, June 21, 2007 10:15 AM-10:30 AM: Session 1 (North Main Hall C/D) Oral Presentation


The Effects of Facial and Manual Gestures on the Behavior of Neonatal Rhesus Macaques (Macaca mulatta)

A. Paukner1, P. Ferrari2, E. Visalberghi3, L. Fogassi2, A. Ruggiero1 and S. Suomi1
1Laboratory of Comparative Ethology, NIH Animal Center, PO Box 529, Poolesville, MD 20837, USA, 2Dipartimento di Neuroscienze, Università di Parma, Via Volturno 39, Parma, 43100, Italy, 3Istituto di Scienze e Tecnologie della Cognizione, CNR, Rome, Italy
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     When presented with facial or manual gestures, human as well as chimpanzee neonates may spontaneously respond with matching gestures in the absence of any external reward. These neonatal matching behaviors are thought to be important for the development of mother-infant and other social relationships. Here we report the results of a study presenting facial and manual gestures to 21 rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) aged 1-14 days. Using Wilcoxon tests [a=0.05], we compared their facial and manual responses during exposure to a human model performing lip smacking, tongue protrusion, hand opening and eye closing (control condition). Infants displayed significantly more matching facial gestures in response to facial gestures than in response to the control condition at age 3 days, but not at age 14 days. We also observed large variability between subjects in the amount of matching responses. We suggest that matching of facial gestures may be an indicator of early social competencies which may correlate with the successful expression of other social behaviors in later life.