Perception of the Müller-Lyer illusion in capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella).Behav Brain Res. 2007 Aug 22; 182(1):67-72.BB
Visual illusions are formed by differences between the perception of one figure and its real physical characteristics. The Müller-Lyer illusion is the best known and most studied geometric illusion, consisting in the subject's judgment between two parallel lines that have the same size, one flanked with outward-pointing arrowheads, and the other with inward-pointing arrowheads. These arrowheads act as inductors that make the lines to be perceived as having different sizes, inward-pointing stimuli being estimated as longer. This study aimed to investigate the Müller-Lyer illusion in capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella), a New World primate not yet investigated for this illusion. For this purpose, stimuli were presented on a touch screen monitor. Ten adult subjects (five females and five males) were used. Before the tests, they were trained to discriminate between two physically different lines with and without arrowheads. The longer lines were always the positive (rewarded) stimuli. Regarding the Müller-Lyer Illusion test, all monkeys, unrespective of gender, demonstrated susceptibility to the illusion, by choosing preferentially the line with inward-pointing arrowheads. In order to determine the degree of the illusion, a point of subjective equality test (PSE) was performed. The PSE without arrowheads values were lower than the PSE with arrowheads. Thus, it was demonstrated that capuchin monkeys were susceptible to the Müller-Lyer illusion, once the perception of the lines' size was influenced by the presence of the arrowheads and by their orientation.