Face processing in cotton-top tamarins (Saguinus oedipus)

Daniel J. Weiss, Jerald D. Kralik, Marc D. Hauser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Current research on face processing in primates has focused on a few species, mostly macaques and chimpanzees; to date, only one New World monkey, the squirrel monkey, has been tested. We explored face processing, and the inversion effect in particular, in a New World primate species, the cotton-top tamarin (Saguinus oedipus). In phase 1 of our study, we trained subjects to discriminate between two faces and two scrambled faces; we then presented the tamarins with a series of novel probes in order to determine the features underlying classification. Results showed that the tamarins relied on the external contour of the face for discrimination more than the internal features and their configuration. Statistical analyses revealed no differences in accuracy or response times to upright versus inverted stimuli, and thus no inversion effect. In phase 2, we provided subjects with additional training on the face versus scrambled face discrimination task in order to focus their attention on the configuration of the internal features. Accuracy data revealed individual differences in how tamarins classified these stimuli, even though each subject was trained in the same way. In phase 3, we tested for generalization to a new set of face stimuli, as well as for the capacity to show an inversion effect. For one subject who attended to the configuration of internal features, we found significant evidence of generalization, but no evidence for an inversion effect.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)191-205
Number of pages15
JournalAnimal Cognition
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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