Development of schematic face preference in macaque monkeys.
This study investigated schematic face preferences in infant macaque monkeys. We also examined the roles of whole and partial features in facial recognition and related developmental change. Sixteen infant monkeys, all less than two months old, were presented with two stimulus pairs. Pair A consisted of "face" and "parts," with the components representing facial parts (i.e. eyes, mouth, and nose). Pair B consisted of "configuration" and "linear," each including three black squares. In each pair, one of two stimuli represented a facial configuration, namely "face" and "configuration." Visual following responses toward each stimulus were analyzed. The results revealed an early preference for schematic faces in these nonhuman primates. Infants less than one month of age showed a preference only for a stimulus that contained only whole facial configuration (i.e. "configuration" in Pair B). One-month-old macaque infants showed a preference only for "face" but not for "configuration." This result means that their preference at that age was affected by both the shape of the components and the overall configuration. As the developmental change and the contribution of both facial features are similar to those in human infants, it may suggest that primates share common cognitive processes in early schematic face recognition.