Social interaction probed by reaching to face images: Rhesus monkeys consider a textured monkey avatar as a conspecific.

Realistic body images (avatars) have been long utilized in virtual reality applications, and they are becoming increasingly used in Neuroscience and Neuroprosthetics fields. To elucidate monkeys' perception of avatars, we have measured reaction of two naive rhesus monkeys when confronted to realistic 3D monkey avatars with different facial expressions and different levels of realism. We have compared it with their reaction to images of real monkeys with similar facial expressions. Monkeys were initially overtrained in reaching task in which they manipulated a joystick to reach toward circular targets with a computer cursor. We then replaced every 15th target with a randomly selected image of either a real monkey face, an avatar face or a sphere (i.e., control image), and we measured the average speed to reach each of these images. We also tested two different facial expressions: an aggressive bared teeth face and a friendly face. Showing the face images significantly altered the kinematics of reaching movements. These results indicated that monkeys interacted with the realistic avatar as if it was a conspecific. This effect was absent if the avatar was not textured. The two way Anova showed that the interaction of texture and facial expression was a significant factor for monkeys' speed of reaching (p<0.01). At the same time, we did not find any significant effect of 3D rendering versus 2D flat rendering (p>0.8), suggesting that the texture is more important than spatial realism for Monkeys to consider an avatar as a conspesific. These effects should be taken into account when using avatars in primate neuroprosthetic research.

Presented at:
socity for Neuroscience, Washington DC, USA, November 12-16 2011

 Record created 2012-04-13, last modified 2018-01-28

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