Human and chimpanzee face recognition in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes): role of exposure and impact on categorical perception.
The respective influences of exposure and inborn neural networks on conspecific and nonconspecific face processing remain unclear. Although the importance of exposure in the development of object and face recognition in general is well documented, studies explicitly comparing face recognition across species showed a species-specific effect. For instance, laboratory monkeys exposed daily to human faces were better at discriminating monkeys than humans, suggesting that the role of exposure may not be the only factor affecting cross-species recognition. In the present study, the authors investigated conspecific and nonconspecific face recognition in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) from 2 primate centers that provided different exposure to chimpanzee and human faces. The authors showed that the chimpanzees from the center providing more exposure to human faces than to chimpanzee faces were better at discriminating human faces than they were at discriminating chimpanzee faces. The chimpanzees from the other center did not show the same effect. A computational simulation was developed to evaluate the average similarities among human pictures and among chimpanzee pictures. Both categories were comparable. Chimpanzees' scores were significantly correlated with the similarity coefficients. Overall, the results show that exposure is a critical determinant in conspecific and nonconspecific face recognition.