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J Comp Psychol. 1990 Mar;104(1):29-40.

Acoustic classification of alarm calls by vervet monkeys (Cercopithecus aethiops) and humans (Homo sapiens): II. Synthetic calls.

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  • 1Indiana University.


In 2 experiments classification of synthetic versions of species-typical snake and eagle alarm calls by vervet monkeys (Cercopithecus aethiops) and human (Homo sapiens) control subjects was investigated. In a 2-choice, operant-conditioning-based procedure, this work followed up acoustic analyses that had used various digitally based algorithms (Owren & Bernacki, 1988). All subjects were first tested with alarm-call replicas that were based on analysis data. These models were classified in the same manner as natural stimuli, which verified the appropriateness of the acoustic characterizations. Synthetic stimuli were then presented to test the importance of specific acoustic cues. Spectral patterning was found to be the most salient cue for classification by the monkeys, whereas results from the human subjects were mixed. Implications for the study of nonhuman primate vocalizations and Lieberman's (1984) theory of speech evolution are discussed.

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