The current experiment investigated the extent to which perceptual categorization of animacy, i.e. the ability to discriminate animate and inanimate objects, is facilitated by image-based features that distinguish the two object categories. We show that, with nominal training, naive macaques could classify a trial-unique set of 1000 novel images with high accuracy. To test whether image-based features that naturally differ between animate and inanimate objects, such as curvilinear and rectilinear information, contribute to the monkeys’ accuracy, we created synthetic images using an algorithm that distorted the global shape of the original animate/inanimate images while maintaining their intermediate features (Portilla and Simoncelli, 2000). Performance on the synthesized images was significantly above chance and was predicted by the amount of curvilinear information in the images. Our results demonstrate that, without training, macaques can use an intermediate image feature, curvilinearity, to facilitate their categorization of animate and inanimate objects.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience