Experience-dependent changes in the development of face preferences in infant rhesus monkeys

Lisa A. Parr, Lauren Murphy, Eric Feczko, Jenna Brooks, Marie Collantes, Thomas R. Heitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


It is well known that early experience shapes the development of visual perception for faces in humans. However, the effect of experience on the development of social attention in non-human primates is unknown. In two studies, we examined the effect of cumulative social experience on developmental changes in attention to the faces of unfamiliar conspecifics or heterospecifics, and mom versus an unfamiliar female. From birth, infant rhesus monkeys preferred to look at conspecific compared to heterospecific faces, but this pattern reversed over time. In contrast, no consistent differences were found for attention to mom's face compared to an unfamiliar female. These results suggest differential roles of social experience in shaping the development of face preferences in infant monkeys. Results have important implications for establishing normative trajectories for the development of face preferences in an animal model of human social behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1002-1018
Number of pages17
JournalDevelopmental psychobiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project was funded by R01MH068791 and K02MH096084 to L.A. Parr and an Autism Center of Excellence grant to the Marcus Autism Center, Children's HealthCare of Atlanta (P50MH000029). Additional support was provided by the National Center for Research Resources P51RR000165 to the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, currently the Office of Research Infrastructure Programs/OD P51OD011132. Special thanks to Christine Marsteller for assistance with animal testing, and David Bailey, Erika Burgess, Warren Jones, Riana Kahlon, Steve Kovar, and Peter Lewis for technical assistance. The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


  • attention
  • experience
  • eye-tracking
  • face
  • infant development
  • macaque
  • preferential looking


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