NCBI ROFL: Chimps in glasses…for science!

By ncbi rofl | April 4, 2013 12:00 pm

How do you know what your chimp is thinking about? Are they thinking about you, or the banana you’re holding? One way to get an idea of what’s going on in that fuzzy little head is by identifying the objects they are looking at. With specially-designed glasses. For science!

Head-Mounted Eye Tracking of a Chimpanzee under Naturalistic Conditions.

“This study offers a new method for examining the bodily, manual, and eye movements of a chimpanzee at the micro-level. A female chimpanzee wore a lightweight head-mounted eye tracker (60 Hz) on her head while engaging in daily interactions with the human experimenter. The eye tracker recorded her eye movements accurately while the chimpanzee freely moved her head, hands, and body. Three video cameras recorded the bodily and manual movements of the chimpanzee from multiple angles. We examined how the chimpanzee viewed the experimenter in this interactive setting and how the eye movements were related to the ongoing interactive contexts and actions. We prepared two experimentally defined contexts in each session: a face-to-face greeting phase upon the appearance of the experimenter in the experimental room, and a subsequent face-to-face task phase that included manual gestures and fruit rewards. Overall, the general viewing pattern of the chimpanzee, measured in terms of duration of individual fixations, length of individual saccades, and total viewing duration of the experimenter’s face/body, was very similar to that observed in previous eye-tracking studies that used non-interactive situations, despite the differences in the experimental settings. However, the chimpanzee viewed the experimenter and the scene objects differently depending on the ongoing context and actions. The chimpanzee viewed the experimenter’s face and body during the greeting phase, but viewed the experimenter’s face and hands as well as the fruit reward during the task phase. These differences can be explained by the differential bodily/manual actions produced by the chimpanzee and the experimenter during each experimental phase (i.e., greeting gestures, task cueing). Additionally, the chimpanzee’s viewing pattern varied depending on the identity of the experimenter (i.e., the chimpanzee’s prior experience with the experimenter). These methods and results offer new possibilities for examining the natural gaze behavior of chimpanzees.”

Related content:
Discoblog: NCBI ROFL: Female chimps choose their sex noises depending on the audience.
Discoblog: NCBI ROFL: Chimpanzees deceive a human competitor by hiding.
Discoblog: NCBI ROFL: Could you solve the floating peanut task?

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: fun with animals, NCBI ROFL, rated G
  • JonFrum

    If a male chimp is shown to have checked out a female experimenter’s breasts while she talks to him, it will never be published. 😉

  • nishant srivastava

    Great now soon you will see Chimps with Google Glasses.


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NCBI ROFL is the brainchild of two Molecular and Cell Biology graduate students at UC Berkeley and features real research articles from the PubMed database (which is housed by the National Center for Biotechnology information, aka NCBI) that they find amusing (ROFL is a commonly-used internet acronym for "rolling on the floor, laughing"). Follow us on twitter: @ncbirofl


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