The goal of my PhD is to understand the influence of face perception of beauty on socio-sexual behaviors in a non-human primate, the mandrill (Mandrillus sphinx). The population of over 300 wild mandrills, studied since 2012 in Gabon, comes from a long-term research program called Mandrillus Project. In this study, beauty is described as a special interaction between the object and the beholder and it emerges directly from the mechanism of perception and processing of information. According to this notion of beauty, coming from the theory of fluency (founded in cognitive science), a signal perceived fluently (accurately, and requiring a minimum of resources) is pleasurable and induces perceiver’s preferences.
My first objective is to implement a model to characterize a measure of beauty, i.e, a measure of fluency based on the statistical typicality of a portrait as encoded by an artificial neural network modelling visual perception in primates.
Second, I will analyze how this measure of beauty (among other known effects, like hierarchy or age) impacts behaviours (proximity, grooming and copulation) in mandrills.
I am also involved in the co-organization of the Montpellier Bio-Stat (MBS) Network, a network that aims to strengthen the biostatistical community by offering training, meetings, work-shops...