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Zoological Research
Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences
ISSN: 2095-8137
Vol. 41, No. 1, 2020, pp. 32-38
Bioline Code: zr20004
Full paper language: English
Document type: Research Article
Document available free of charge

Zoological Research, Vol. 41, No. 1, 2020, pp. 32-38

 en Increased attention to snake images in cynomolgus monkeys: an eye-tracking study
Zhang, Bo; Zhou, Zhi-Gang; Zhou, Yin & Chen, Yong-Chang


Previous studies have revealed faster detection of snake images in humans and non-human primates (NHPs), suggesting automatic detection of evolutionary fear-relevant stimuli. Furthermore, human studies have indicated that general fear-relevance rather than evolutionary relevance is more effective at capturing attention. However, the issue remains unclarified in NHPs. Thus, in the present study, we explored the attentional features of laboratory-reared monkeys to evolutionary and general fear-relevant stimuli (e.g., images of snakes, capturing gloves). Eye-tracking technology was utilized to assess attentional features as it can provide more accurate latency and variables of viewing duration and frequency compared with visual search task (VST) and response latency adopted in previous studies. In addition, those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) show abnormal attention to threatening stimuli, including snake images. Rett syndrome (RTT) is considered a subcategory of ASD due to the display of autistic features. However, the attentional features of RTT patients or animal models to such stimuli remain unclear. Therefore, we also investigated the issue in MECP2 gene-edited RTT monkeys. The influence of different cognitive loads on attention was further explored by presenting one, two, or four images to increase stimulus complexity. The eye-tracking results revealed no significant differences between RTT and control monkeys, who all presented increased viewing (duration and frequency) of snake images but not of aversive stimuli compared with control images, thus suggesting attentional preference for evolutionary rather than general fear-relevant visual stimuli. Moreover, the preference was only revealed in visual tasks composed of two or four images, suggesting its cognitive-load dependency.

Non-human primates; Attention; Snake; Evolutionary relevance

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