Chimpanzees prefer faces to food

Chimpanzees prefer faces to food

source-image
Aug 06, 2009
By dvm360.com staff

Have you ever had one of those moments at the zoo when, gazing through the glass at the primate exhibit, you looked a chimpanzee right in the eyes and swore you felt a real connection? You might not be projecting human emotion. A recent study conducted at the Primate Research Institute at Japan's Kyoto University shows that chimps--like humans--place special value on faces.

In the experiment, chimpanzees were given the chance to play a game that would reward them with food when they touched a target on a computer screen. This target was then made to appear behind an image on one side of a split screen opposite a blank side. Eventually two images appeared on the split screen, one being the face of a chimp. Reaction times were improved when the target appeared behind the chimp face, indicating that the test subjects' attention was already drawn to that image. Chimps' attention was even more focused on faces than on images of a banana.

Primate Research Institute's Masaki Tomonaga says it is well understood that humans process faces much differently than other visuals and their research has confirmed that chimpanzees also exhibit this predilection. This was also the case when human faces were displayed as part of the study.

So exchange glances with a chimp--the enjoyment will be mutual.

Hot topics on dvm360

Blog: Election results pose obstacles for veterinary prescription law

Flip in U.S. Senate's majority may slow progress of Fairness to Pet Owners Act.

7 steps to a better relationship between veterinarians and rescue groups

A DVM in the city shares his advice to veterinary practices for working with rescues.

The war between shelters, veterinarians needs to end

Despite practitioners’ legitimate gripes, they’re hurting themselves.

Making it work: Cavanaugh Pet Hospital dedicates itself to a positive, productive shelter relationship

Watch "Moustakas" benefit from Cavanaugh Pet Hospital's partnership with Furry Kids Refuge.

Ebola-exposed dog's first test for the virus is negative

Bentley will continue to be treated with an abundance of caution for the remainder of his quarantine, while his owner has been declared 'virus-free.'