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J Acoust Soc Am. 2006 Oct;120(4):2132-41.

Rhesus macaques spontaneously perceive formants in conspecific vocalizations.

Author information

1
School of Psychology, University of St. Andrews, St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland, KY169JP United Kingdom. wtsf@st-andrews.ac.uk

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.

PMID:
17069311
DOI:
10.1121/1.2258499
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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