Sheep trained to recognize Jake Gyllenhaal, for science

Neuroscientists from the University of Cambridge posted a report in the Royal Society Open Science journal on Tuesday asserting that sheep are capable of distinguishing faces of animals, humans, celebrities and even former President Barak Obama as well.

EWE AGAIN Sheep were trained to recognize celebrity faces, demonstrating that the animals can recognize a familiar human face from a 2-D image. Horses, according to a study published in 2016, can also identify emotion in human facial expressions.

Every time an animal picked the celebrity face instead of a different image on a second screen, it would get a food reward.

The study involved eight female Welsh Mountain sheep.

In a separate test, researchers wanted to see if the sheep would recognize human trainers they already know without any training like they underwent in the pen with the celebrity faces.

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This was on par with research in humans - one study in 2000 found that the human ability to recognize unfamiliar faces decreases from 90 percent for frontward faces to about 76 percent when faces are tilted, the authors noted. This convinced the researchers that sheep had face-recognition abilities similar to ours.

"We chose these people because there were lots of images of each person available on line, both front-on and taken at different angles", study co-author Jennifer Morton of the University of Cambridge told AFP.

Morton and her team are now studying sheep that have been genetically modified to carry the gene mutation that causes Huntington's disease.

Jake Gyllenhaal, seen here with an animal that is not a sheep.

Results said that the sheep were able to spot the right face on more than one occasions. "Either the human face is similar enough to the sheep face that [it] activates the sheep face-processing system, or human-face recognition relies on more general-purpose recognition systems". "I guess they have extended our work to show that sheep generalize viewpoints of the faces, which does require a rich representation of the identity". Over time, they learn to associate a reward with the celebrity's photograph. The research could even help with research into neurological diseases.

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