Abstract # 2550 Poster # 156:

Scheduled for Sunday, September 20, 2009 06:30 PM-09:00 PM: Session 14 (Mission Bay Ballroom CDE) Poster Presentation


VISUAL DISCRIMINATION OF MALE AND FEMALE FACES BY INFANT RHESUS MACAQUES (MACACA MULATTA)

A. Paukner1, M. E. Huntsberry2,3 and S. J. Suomi1
1Laboratory of Comparative Ethology, NIH Animal Center, Poolesville, MD 20837, USA, 2SoBran Inc., Bethesda, MD, 3Division of Veterinary Resources, ORS/NIH/DHHS, Bethesda, MD
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Recent studies have revealed that human infants process female human faces differently from male human faces. To test whether a similar asymmetry in facial processing exists in other primates, we presented nursery-reared infant rhesus macaques [less than 1 month old, N=23] with photographs of male and female macaques and humans. Gaze durations at male and female faces were analyzed using ANOVAs [α=0.05]. Macaque infants preferentially oriented towards female macaque faces when images were displayed upright, but not when images were displayed inverted. Moreover, male infants looked longer at macaque faces than female infants which suggests that male infants might be delayed or perhaps less proficient in processing facial information. The same rhesus infants did not discriminate between male and female human faces. The fact that macaque infants preferentially attended to female macaque faces despite very limited experience with adult macaques suggests that this phenomenon might be an innate predisposition and carry significant adaptive value.