Rhesus monkeys can assess the visual perspective of others when competing for food

hid the food preferentially looked at the hidden location. These results suggest that competition-like situations may bring out the primates' abilities more than experiments that don't involve competition.

These latest results, however, suggest that rhesus monkeys can do much more than just follow the gaze of others; they can also deduce what others see and know, based only on their perception of where others are looking. These data potentially push back the time during which our own abilities to "read the minds of others" must have evolved. Moreover, they suggest strongly a reason why these abilities may have evolved in the first place, namely for competitive interactions with others. Finally, these results lay the groundwork for investigating the neural basis for this kind of social reasoning in a readily available laboratory animal an urgent endeavor for developing a better neural understanding of diseases such as autism, in which this kind of social reasoning appears impaired.


Contact: Heidi Hardman
Cell Press

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