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Coupled Oscillator Dynamics of Vocal Turn-Taking in Monkeys

Author(s): Takahashi, Daniel Y.; Narayanan, Darshana Z.; Ghazanfar, Asif A.

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Abstract: Cooperation is central to human communication [1–3]. The foundation of cooperative verbal communication is taking turns to speak. Given the universality of turn-taking [4], it is natural to ask how it evolved. We used marmoset monkeys to explore whether another primate species exhibits cooperative vocal communication by taking turns. Marmosets share with humans a cooperative breeding strategy and volubility. Cooperative care behaviors are thought to scaffold prosocial cognitive processes [5, 6]. Moreover, marmosets and other callitrichid primates are very vocal and readily exchange vocalizations with conspecifics [7–11]. By measuring the natural statistics of marmoset vocal exchanges, we observed that they take turns in extended sequences and show that this vocal turn-taking has as its foundation dynamics characteristic of coupled oscillators—one that is similar to the dynamics proposed for human conversational turn-taking [12]. As marmoset monkeys are on a different branch of the evolutionary tree that led to humans, our data demonstrate convergent evolution of vocal cooperation. Perhaps more importantly, our data offer a plausible alternative scenario to "gestural origin" hypotheses for how human cooperative vocal communication could have evolved.
Publication Date: Nov-2013
Citation: Takahashi, Daniel Y., Narayanan, Darshana Z, and Asif A. Ghazanfar. (2013). Coupled Oscillator Dynamics of Vocal Turn-Taking in Monkeys. Current Biology, 23 (21), 2162 - 2168. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2013.09.005
DOI: doi:10.1016/j.cub.2013.09.005
ISSN: 0960-9822
Pages: 2162 - 2168
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: Current Biology
Version: Author's manuscript

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