Rhesus macaques spontaneously perceive formants in conspecific vocalizations

William Tecumseh Sherman Fitch, J Fritz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We provide a direct demonstration that nonhuman primates spontaneously perceive changes in formant frequencies in their own species-typical vocalizations, without training or reinforcement. Formants are vocal tract resonances leading to distinctive spectral prominences in the vocal signal, and provide the acoustic determinant of many key phonetic distinctions in human languages. We developed algorithms for manipulating formants in rhesus macaque calls. Using the resulting computer-manipulated calls in a habituation/dishabituation paradigm, with blind video scoring, we show that rhesus macaques spontaneously respond to a change in formant frequencies within the normal macaque vocal range. Lack of dishabituation to a "synthetic replica" signal demonstrates that dishabituation was not due to an artificial quality of synthetic calls, but to the formant shift itself. These results indicate that formant perception, a significant component of human voice and speech perception, is a perceptual ability shared with other primates. (c) 2006 Acoustical Society of America.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2132-2141
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Volume120
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2006

Keywords

  • VENTROLATERAL PREFRONTAL CORTEX
  • MONKEYS CERCOPITHECUS-AETHIOPS
  • VOCAL-TRACT RESONANCES
  • HUMANS HOMO-SAPIENS
  • RED DEER STAGS
  • ALARM CALLS
  • VERVET MONKEYS
  • BODY-SIZE
  • ACOUSTIC CLASSIFICATION
  • COMMUNICATION SOUNDS

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