A new study published in the journal Scientific Reports uses well-controlled experiments on our closest relatives, the chimpanzees, to highlight important implications concerning how we humans develop our face perception system.
For primates, the ability to distinguish between individuals primarily relies on face recognition. However, the extents to which developmental processes contribute to face perception remain relatively unclear. This new study, led by JSPS Postdoctoral Fellow Dr. Christoph Dahl and CICASP’s own Dr. Ikuma Adachi, took advantage of the peculiar fact that chimpanzees at the Kyoto University Primate Research Institute have had life-long exposure to non-conspecific faces at distinctive levels of experience which varied by age to disentangle these developmental components in face recognition. They found an advantage in the ability of young chimpanzees to discriminate chimpanzee before human faces, reflecting a predominant contribution of an early component driving the perceptual system towards conspecific morphology. In stark contrast, old chimpanzees were better able to discriminate human over chimpanzee faces, reflecting a predominant late component shaping the perceptual system along the critical dimensions of the faces typically exposed to. The study also simulates the relative contributions of these early and late components using computational modeling and mathematically describes their underlying functions.
For more information, access the article here at Scientific Reports.