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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Jan 25;108(4):1735-40. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1008169108. Epub 2011 Jan 10.

Spontaneous voice-face identity matching by rhesus monkeys for familiar conspecifics and humans.

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Centre de Neuroscience Cognitive, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Université Lyon I, 69675 Bron, France.


Recognition of a particular individual occurs when we reactivate links between current perceptual inputs and the previously formed representation of that person. This recognition can be achieved by identifying, separately or simultaneously, distinct elements such as the face, silhouette, or voice as belonging to one individual. In humans, those different cues are linked into one complex conceptual representation of individual identity. Here we tested whether rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) also have a cognitive representation of identity by evaluating whether they exhibit cross-modal individual recognition. Further, we assessed individual recognition of familiar conspecifics and familiar humans. In a free preferential looking time paradigm, we found that, for both species, monkeys spontaneously matched the faces of known individuals to their voices. This finding demonstrates that rhesus macaques possess a cross-modal cognitive representation of individuals that extends from conspecifics to humans, revealing the adaptive potential of identity recognition for individuals of socioecological relevance.

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