Neuroscientists have overcome the effect of the uncanny valley in monkeys

Neuroscientists from Germany have created realistic animated images of the faces of monkeys that macaques reacted almost the same way as real faces. To prove the absence of effect of “sinister valley”, the researchers showed the monkeys the same image, but no fur — these models, in contrast to the naturalistic, hit the “uncanny valley” and caused hostility. Article published in the journal eNeuro.

Facial expressions and facial expression play a key role in communicating and reading emotions in humans and monkeys. However, studies neural mechanisms of face recognition difficulties — invasive experiments are often carried out on monkeys, and show them usually the human face, besides static. The same dynamic facial expressions themselves monkeys to fix and standardize still failed.

To solve this problem, you can create animated face models of monkeys. But before the use of models in experiments, you must make sure that the animals will know them as relatives. Even if the model would seem very realistic to humans, monkeys can ignore them or even to be frightened. The latter refers to the effect of “sinister valley” of robotics, Masahiro Mori — very realistic robots cause hostility due to small discrepancies, though less and more realistic models can like.

Scientists from the University of tübingen under the direction of Peter Tira (Peter Thier) created a graphical model of the head monkeys. This took MRI images of live individuals of a species rhesus Monkeys (Macaca mulatta), and for naturalism added to virtual head skin and coat. Facial expressions of the monkeys imitated with the help of technology motion capture, just draw four typical facial expressions: scared grin, smacking lips, menacingly open mouth, and neutral. Drew and one of the unrealistic animation where a monkey lighten up (rhesus monkeys never does).

To test the reaction of the apes to a less realistic image, they were shown several types render type: plain smooth face without hair; the same images but in black and white; frame drawings with grey lines on a white background. In addition, this series added a video of live monkeys — they were shot on green screen and cut everything except the head. Two-second static or animated images of different types of drawing showed eight monkeys. The animals recorded the gaze direction, electrocardiograms and facial expression.

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