Viewing heterospecific facial expressions: an eye-tracking study of human and monkey viewers

Guo, Kun and Li, Zhihan and Yan, Yin and Li, Wu (2019) Viewing heterospecific facial expressions: an eye-tracking study of human and monkey viewers. Experimental Brain Research, 237 (8). pp. 2045-2059. ISSN 0014-4819

Full content URL: http://doi.org/10.1007/s00221-019-05574-3

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Viewing heterospecific facial expressions: an eye-tracking study of human and monkey viewers
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Abstract

Common facial expressions of emotion have distinctive patterns of facial muscle movements that are culturally similar among humans, and perceiving these expressions is associated with stereotypical gaze allocation at local facial regions that are characteristic for each expression, such as eyes in angry faces. It is, however, unclear to what extent this ‘universality’ view can be extended to process heterospecific facial expressions, and how ‘social learning’ process contributes to heterospecific expression perception. In this eye-tracking study, we examined face-viewing gaze allocation of human (including dog owners and non-dog owners) and monkey observers while exploring expressive human, chimpanzee, monkey and dog faces (positive, neutral and negative expressions in human and dog faces; neutral and negative expressions in chimpanzee and monkey faces). Human observers showed species- and experience-dependent expression categorization accuracy. Furthermore, both human and monkey observers demonstrated different face-viewing gaze distributions which were also species dependent. Specifically, humans predominately attended at human eyes but animal mouth when judging facial expressions. Monkeys’ gaze distributions in exploring human and monkey faces were qualitatively different from exploring chimpanzee and dog faces. Interestingly, the gaze behaviour of both human and monkey observers were further affected by their prior experience of the viewed species. It seems that facial expression processing is species dependent, and social learning may play a significant role in discriminating even rudimentary types of heterospecific expressions.

Keywords:Facial expression, Gaze behaviour, Eye tracking, Rhesus macaques, Humans
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C850 Cognitive Psychology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
ID Code:36472
Deposited On:18 Jul 2019 09:03

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