monkeys match mien and meaning

In yet another example of how monkeylike humans are (or how humanlike monkeys are), monkeys can link sounds to specific facial expressions, report researchers in the June 26 Nature. Rhesus monkeys communicate using their faces and voices. Among their most common sounds are friendly “coo” and antagonistic “threat” calls, and each call is accompanied by a distinct facial expression. In their experiment, Asif A. Ghazanfar and Nikos K. Logothetis of the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics showed adult rhesus monkeys two side-by-side silent videos of threat and coo facial expressions. When they played the sound of the call, more than 65 percent of the monkeys looked at the correct matching face without any training. The scientists believe this ability is an evolutionary precursor to our own capacity to match spoken words with particular facial expressions, necessary for speech perception.

This news brief appeared in the Random Data column of the Boston Globe’s Health/Science section on 7/08/2003.
This entry was posted in boston globe, news briefs. Bookmark the permalink.