Monkeys Have Human Like Emotional Responses to Imagery

PRINCETON`, N.J., Oct. 19 (UPI) — U.S. scientists report evidence that monkeys, like humans, experience an emotional response to slightly unrealistic images of themselves.

The emotional response was named “the uncanny valley” in 1970 by Masahiro Mori, a Japanese researcher of robotics. Mori found people enjoy looking at human images that are highly realistic or highly unrealistic. When examining human images that are generally realistic, but also have unrealistic or distorted features, Mori found people experience a feeling of revulsion.

The “valley,” scientists said, is a reference to the drop in positive emotional responses when people view the slightly unrealistic images of humans.

In the new study, Princeton University Assistant Professor Asif Ghazanfar and researcher Shawn Steckenfinger studied the responses of macaque monkeys as they viewed computer-generated images of monkeys that were realistic, but less than perfect. The scientists found the monkeys averted their gaze and became fearful when shown the close-to-but-not realistic images.

The researchers say their results are the first such findings in any animal, other than human, that show there is a biological basis for the phenomenon.

The study appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Categorized | Animals, Other
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