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Like humans, monkeys fall into the 'uncanny valley'
Date:10/13/2009

ain mechanisms underlying the uncanny valley are evolutionary adaptations. "These data demonstrate that the uncanny valley effect is not unique to humans and that evolutionary hypotheses regarding its origins are tenable," said Ghazanfar.

The uncanny valley hypothesis was introduced by the Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori in 1970. The "valley" refers to a dip in a graph that charts a human's positive reaction in response to an image on one axis and a robot's human-likeness on another. People like to study other human faces, and they also can enjoy scrutinizing countenances that clearly are not human, such as a doll's or a cartoon figure's. But when an image falls in between -- close to human but clearly not -- it causes a feeling of revulsion.

Experts praised the Princeton report.

"This study makes a significant contribution to existing knowledge of the uncanny valley," said Karl MacDorman, an associate professor in the School of Informatics at Indiana University, who has led important experiments in the fields of android science and computational neuroscience. "The research design is novel, the experiment is carried out with a high degree of rigor, and the results are compelling, important, newsworthy, and support the [hypothesis]."

He believes the results will be of broad interest to scientists and non-scientists, including "ethologists, animal behaviorists, cognitive psychologists of human perception, evolutionary psychologists, primate social cognitive neuroscientists, humanoid roboticists and human character animators."

In the experiments, the monkeys, which normally coo and smack their lips to engage each other, quickly avert their glances and are frightened when confronted by the close-to-real images. When asked to peer at the less close-to-real faces and real faces, however, they viewed them more often and for longer periods.

Despite the widespread acknowledgement of the uncanny valley as a valid pheno
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Contact: Emily Aronson
earonson@princeton.edu
609-258-5733
Princeton University
Source:Eurekalert  

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