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Visual attention following in chimpanzees-A preliminary study-

Shoji Itakura, Mari Kumashiro, & Toshifumu Udono

     Two chimpanzees were tested to establish whether they shift their visual attention in the direction toward which a cueing stimulus oriented them. In the experiment, a face-like line drawing, a photograph of a human face, and a line drawing of an arrow were used as cueing stimuli. The stimuli were stuck on the center of a panel. Two identical stimuli (photographs of bananas and apples) were stuck on the both side of the cueing stimulus on the panel. The experimenter then simultaneously moved both the target stimuli slowly away from the cueing stimulus, toward the periphery of the panel. Two independent observers coded the direction of the chimpanzees' eye movements. The chimpanzees' eye movements were also video-recorded by a centrally mounted camera. The chimpanzees looked in the direction of the cueing stimulus for the line drawing of a face, the photograph of a face, and for the arrow. These data are quite similar to those of human adults which the author collected by using the same method . These results suggest that the shift of gaze can trigger reflexive orienting even in chimpanzees. It must be cautioned that, with only two chimpanzees in this study, our data do not establish a “universal reflexive visual attention shift” of this species. However, it is important that these chimpanzees showed quite similar responses to humans. In the future more data should be collected employing this paradigm and we hope these data suggest new directions for investigation of chimpanzees’ gaze following.