Abstract # 4286 Event # 103:

Scheduled for Friday, June 22, 2012 12:00 PM-12:15 PM: Session 15 (Camellia ) Oral Presentation


INVESTIGATING FACIAL PROCESSING IN INFANT RHESUS MACAQUES USING EYE TRACKING TECHNOLOGY

A. Paukner1, E. Simpson1,2, S. B. Bower1 and S. J. Suomi1
1Laboratory of Comparative Ethology, NIH Animal Center, Poolesville, MD 20837, USA, 2Dipartimento di Neuroscienze, Universita di Parma, Parma, Italy
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     Faces are an important stimulus for many social animals as they convey various information including sex, age, gender, attention, and emotional state. Like human infants, macaque infants show quite sophisticated facial processing abilities even at a young age. Previous studies have shown that infant macaques prefer line drawings of normal macaque faces or face-like stimuli over irregular macaque faces and face-like stimuli. Here we attempt to replicate and extend these findings as well as test the feasibility of using eye tracking technology with infant rhesus macaques. We presented 29 nursery-reared infant rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta; aged 10-30 days) with photographs of normal and irregular human, monkey, and abstract faces. In each test session, 9 face stimuli were shown in random order for 10 seconds. Using Tobii XL60 and Tobii Studio, we analyzed total looking time towards the different types of faces. Results show that overall, infants looked significantly longer at normal rather than irregular faces, and that infants looked significantly less at monkey faces compared to human or abstract faces (ps<0.05). These results indicate that rhesus macaque infants are sensitive to facial configurations even at a very young age, but also that different types of faces may vary in saliency. Eye tracking technology is a feasible tool for non-human primate research, and we will discuss some its advantages and challenges.