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Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience

September 1998, Vol. 10, No. 5, Pages 615-622
(doi: 10.1162/089892998563013)
© 1998 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Why Faces May Be Special: Evidence of the Inversion Effect in Chimpanzees
Article PDF (228.58 KB)

Five chimpanzees were tested on their ability to discriminate faces and automobiles presented in both their upright and inverted orientations. The face stimuli consisted of 30 black and white photographs, 10 each of unfamiliar chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), brown capuchins (Cebus apella), and humans (Homo sapiens). Ten black and white photographs of automobiles were also used. The stimuli were presented in a sequential matching-to-sample (SMTS) format using a computerized joystick-testing apparatus. Subjects performed better on upright than inverted stimuli in all classes. Performance was significantly better on upright than inverted presentations of chimpanzee and human faces but not on capuchin monkey faces or automobiles. These data support previous studies in humans that suggest the inversion effect occurs for stimuli for which subjects have developed an expertise. Alternative explanations for the inversion effect based on the type of spatial frequency contained in the stimuli are also discussed. These data are the first to provide evidence for the inversion effect using several classes of face stimuli in a great ape species.