Sunday 6 December 2015

Study finds 'rudimentary' empathy in macaques

December 1, 2015 by Bob Yirka report

(—A pair of researchers with Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and Université Lyon, in France has conducted a study that has shown that macaques have at least some degree of empathy towards their fellow cage mates. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Sebastien Ballesta and Jean-René Duhamela describe the experiments they carried out and why they believe the results suggest that macaques are aware of the emotional state of other macaques and express empathy towards them under certain circumstances.

The experiments carried out by the duo consisted of placing pairs of captive macaques opposite one another and then allowing them to take turns picking an icon on a screen that offered the other either a reward or a punishment. Rewards were juice sips, while punishment came in the form of puffs of air into the eyes. The researchers also used eye-tracking devices to monitor the gaze and blink rate of the monkeys as they performed their tasks—useful signals for signs of social engagement.

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