Eye-tracking with nonhuman primates is now more accessible than ever before


  • Christopher J. Machado,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and the California National Primate Research Center, University of California, Davis, California
    • Brain, Mind and Behavior Unit, California National Primate Research Center, University of California, Davis, One Shields Ave., Davis, CA 95616
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  • Eric E. Nelson

    1. Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program, National Institutes of Mental Health, Bethesda, Maryland
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Human and nonhuman primates rely almost exclusively on vision for social communication. Therefore, tracking eye movements and examining visual scan paths can provide a wealth of information about many aspects of primate social information processing. Although eye-tracking techniques have been utilized with humans for some time, similar studies in nonhuman primates have been less frequent over recent decades. This has largely been owing to the need for invasive manipulations, such as the surgical implantation of devices to limit head movement, which may not be possible in some laboratories or at some universities, or may not be congruent with some experimental aims (i.e., longitudinal studies). It is important for all nonhuman primate researchers interested in visual information processing or operant behavior to realize that such invasive procedures are no longer necessary. Here, we briefly describe new methods for fully noninvasive video eye-tracking with adult rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta). We also describe training protocols that require only ∼30 days to accomplish and quality control measures that promote reliable data collection. It is our hope that this brief overview will reacquaint nonhuman primate researchers with the benefits of eye-tracking and promote expanded use of this powerful methodology. Am. J. Primatol. 73: 562–569, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.