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Conspecific Recognition in the Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes): Cardiac Responses to Significant Others
  • Sarah T. Boysen, The Ohio State University
  • Gary G. Berntson, Emory University
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The ability of a chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) to recognize photographs of conspecifics was evaluated with heart-rate measures. Heart rate was recorded before, during, and after viewing photographs of an aggressive chimpanzee, a friendly companion animal, and an unfamiliar chimpanzee. The subject displayed a differential pattern of heart-rate response to the stimulus animals, without prior experience with the photographs. Responses to the aggressive animal were acceleratory, which suggests a defensive response. Respiratory sinus arrhythmia suggested that this response was associated with sympathetic activation. In contrast, responses to the familiar animal were minimal, whereas cardiac deceleration was observed in response to the strange chimp, which likely reflects an orienting response. Results suggest the chimpanzee is able to recognize photographs of individual conspecifics and that heart-rate change can reflect the nature of established social relationships between chimpanzees.


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Citation Information
Boysen, S. T., & Berntson, G. G. (1989). Conspecific recognition in the chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes): cardiac responses to significant others. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 103(3), 215.