Laterality effect for faces in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes)
Face perception in humans is governed by more right than left hemispheric neural correlate. Some but not all neurophysiological studies depict a right-side dominance for face responsive neurons in the brains of macaques. Hence, it is an open question if and to what extent a right-hemisphere preference of processing faces exists across primate brains. We investigated chimpanzees discriminating chimeric faces of chimpanzees and humans, i.e. the combination of either left or right sides of a face vertically flipped and merged into a whole face. We found an effect of choosing the left-chimeric face more often than the right-chimeric face as being the one of the two that is closer to the original face, reflecting an advantage for the right side of the brain to process faces, as reported in humans. Moreover, we found a modulation by age of the participants, suggesting that the exposure history with a particular category shapes the right-hemispheric neural correlate to a configural/holistic processing strategy. In other words, the findings in chimpanzee participants parallel those in human participants and are suggestive for similar neural machineries in the occipitaltemporal cortices in both species.
C. D. Dahl*, M. J. Rasch, M. Tomonaga, I. Adachi, Laterality effect for faces in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). Journal of Neuroscience, 33(33): 13344-9 (2013).