Impairment effect of infantile coloration on face discrimination in chimpanzees

R Soc Open Sci. 2021 Nov 10;8(11):211421. doi: 10.1098/rsos.211421. eCollection 2021 Nov.


Impaired face recognition for certain face categories, such as faces of other species or other age class faces, is known in both humans and non-human primates. A previous study found that it is more difficult for chimpanzees to differentiate infant faces than adult faces. Infant faces of chimpanzees differ from adult faces in shape and colour, but the latter is especially a salient cue for chimpanzees. Therefore, impaired face differentiation of infant faces may be due to a specific colour. In the present study, we investigated which feature of infant faces has a greater effect on face identification difficulty. Adult chimpanzees were tested using a matching-to-sample task with four types of face stimuli whose shape and colour were manipulated as either infant or adult one independently. Chimpanzees' discrimination performance decreased as they matched faces with infant coloration, regardless of the shape. This study is the first to demonstrate the impairment effect of infantile coloration on face recognition in non-human primates, suggesting that the face recognition strategies of humans and chimpanzees overlap as both species show proficient face recognition for certain face colours.

Keywords: chimpanzees; face colour; face recognition; face shape; infantile coloration.

Associated data

  • figshare/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.5697960