Global and local processing in adult humans (Homo sapiens), 5-year-old children (Homo sapiens), and adult cotton-top tamarins (Saguinus oedipus)

J Comp Psychol. 2006 Nov;120(4):323-30. doi: 10.1037/0735-7036.120.4.323.


This study compared adults (Homo sapiens), young children (Homo sapiens), and adult tamarins (Saguinus oedipus) while they discriminated global and local properties of stimuli. Subjects were trained to discriminate a circle made of circle elements from a square made of square elements and were tested with circles made of squares and squares made of circles. Adult humans showed a global bias in testing that was unaffected by the density of the elements in the stimuli. Children showed a global bias with dense displays but discriminated by both local and global properties with sparse displays. Adult tamarins' biases matched those of the children. The striking similarity between the perceptual processing of adult monkeys and humans diagnosed with autism and the difference between this and normatively developing human perception is discussed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Discrimination Learning
  • Discrimination, Psychological*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Saguinus
  • Visual Perception*