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Proc Biol Sci. 1997 Oct 22;264(1387):1429-34.

Are faces of different species perceived categorically by human observers?

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Department of Human Communication Science, University College London, UK.


What are the species boundaries of face processing? Using a face-feature morphing algorithm, image series intermediate between human, monkey (macaque), and bovine faces were constructed. Forced-choice judgement of these images showed sharply bounded categories for upright face images of each species. These predicted the perceptual discrimination boundaries for upright monkey-cow and cow-human images, but not human-monkey images. Species categories were also well-judged for inverted face images, but these did not give sharpened discrimination (categorical perception) at the category boundaries. While categorical species judgements are made reliably, only the distinction between primate faces and cow faces appears to be categorically perceived, and only in upright faces. One inference is that humans may judge monkey faces in terms of human characteristics, albeit distinctive ones.

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