Short-Term Acoustic Modifications During Dynamic Vocal Interactions in Nonhuman Primates— Implications for Origins of Motherese

  • Hiroki Koda


In ethology, communication, including human language or conversation, is defi ned as the interaction between two individuals, a sender and a receiver, using a signal. The sender produces a signal that conveys information. The signal and information are transmitted through the environment and are detected by the receiver, who uses the information to help in deciding how to respond. The receiver’s response affects the fi tness of both the sender and the receiver (Bradbury and Vehrencamp 1998). Information exchange is an essential component of the defi nition of animal communication. In true communication, both sender and receiver benefi t from the information exchange (e.g., Marler 1977).


Nonhuman Primate Japanese Macaque Pitch Contour Prosodic Feature Contact Call 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Banse R, Scherer KR (1996) Acoustic profiles in vocal emotion expression. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 70:614–636PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Beecher MD, Stoddard PK, Campbell SE, Horning CL (1996) Repertoire matching between neighbouring song sparrows. Animal Behaviour 51:917–923CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Biben M, Symmes D, Masataka N (1986) Temporal and structural analysis of affiliative vocal exchanges in squirrel monkeys (Saimiri sciureus). Behaviour 98:259–273CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Boinski S, Mitchell CL (1992) Ecological and social factors affecting the vocal behavior of adult female squirrel monkeys Ethology 92:316–330Google Scholar
  5. Bradbury JW, Vehrencamp SL (1998) Principles of animal communication. Sinauer, Sunderland, MAGoogle Scholar
  6. Brumm H, Voss K, Kollmer I, Todt D (2004) Acoustic communication in noise: Regulation of call characteristics in a New World monkey. Journal of Experimental Biology 207:443–448PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cheney DL, Seyfarth RM, Palombit R (1996) The function and mechanisms underlying baboon “contact” barks. Animal Behaviour 52:507–518CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cleveland J, Snowdon CT (1982) The complex vocal repertoire of the adult cottontop tamarin (Saguinus oedipus oedipus). Zeitschrift Fur Tierpsychologie 58:231–270Google Scholar
  9. Cooper RP, Aslin RN (1990) Preference for infant-directed speech in the 1st month after birth. Child Development 61:1584–1595PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cooper RP, Abraham J, Berman S, Staska M (1997) The development of infants’ preference for motherese. Infant Behavior & Development 20:477–488CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Crockford C, Herbinger I, Vigilant L, Boesch C (2004) Wild chimpanzees produce groupspecific calls: A case for vocal learning? Ethology 110:221–243CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Deacon TW (1989) The homologs to human language circuits in monkey brains. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 78:210–211Google Scholar
  13. Egnor SER, Hauser MD (2004) A paradox in the evolution of primate vocal learning. Trends in Neurosciences 27:649–654PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Egnor SER, Hauser MD (2006) Noise-induced vocal modulation in cotton-top tamarins (Saguinus oedipus) American Journal of Primatology 68:1183–1190PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Egnor SER, Iguina CG, Hauser MD (2006) Perturbation of auditory feedback causes systematic perturbation in vocal structure in adult cotton-top tamarins. Journal of Experimental Biology 209:3652–3663PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Falk D (2004) Prelinguistic evolution in early hominins: Whence motherese? Behavioral and Brain Sciences 27:491–503PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Fay R (1988) Hearing in vertebrates: A psychophysical databook. Hill-Fay Associates, WinnetkaGoogle Scholar
  18. Fernald A (1985) 4-month-old infants prefer to listen to motherese. Infant Behavior & Development 8:181–195CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Fernald A, Simon T (1984) Expanded intonation contours in mothers speech to newborns. Developmental Psychology 20:104–113CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Fernald A, Taeschner T, Dunn J, Papousek M, Deboyssonbardies B, Fukui I (1989) A cross-language study of prosodic modifications in mothers and fathers speech to preverbal infants. Journal of Child Language 16:477–501PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Fichtel C, Hammerschmidt K, Jurgens U (2001) On the vocal expression of emotion. A multi-parametric analysis of different states of aversion in the squirrel monkey. Behaviour 138:96–116CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Fischer J, Hammerschmidt K, Todt D (1998) Local variation in Barbary macaque shrill barks. Animal Behaviour 56:623–629PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Geissmann T (1999) Duet songs of the siamang, Hylobates syndactylus: II. Testing the pair-bonding hypothesis during a partner exchange. Behaviour 136:1005–1039CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Ghazanfar A (ed) (2003) Primate audition: Ethology and neurobiology. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FLGoogle Scholar
  25. Gilissen E (2004) Aspects of human language: Where motherese? Behavioral and Brain Sciences 27:514CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Goodwin C (1981) Conversational organization: Interaction between speakers and hearers. Academic Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  27. Green S (1975) Variation of vocal pattern with social situation in the Japanese monkey (Macaca fuscata): A field study In: Rosenblum LA (ed) Primate behavior, vol 4. Academic Press, New York, pp 1–102Google Scholar
  28. Grieser DL, Kuhl PK (1988) Maternal speech to infants in a tonal language—Support for universal prosodic features in motherese. Developmental Psychology 24:14–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hammerschmidt K, Newman JD, Champoux M, Suomi SJ (2000) Changes in rhesus macaque “coo” vocalizations during early development. Ethology 106:873–886CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hammerschmidt K, Freudenstein T, Jurgens U (2001) Vocal development in squirrel monkeys. Behaviour 138:1179–1204CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hauser MD (1991) Sources of acoustic variation in rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) vocalizations. Ethology 89:29–46Google Scholar
  32. Hauser MD (1992) Articulatory and social factors influence the acoustic structure of rhesus monkey vocalizations—A learned mode of production. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 91:2175–2179PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Itani J (1963) Vocal communication of the wild Japanese monkey. Primates 4:11–66CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Janik VM (2000) Whistle matching in wild bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). Science 289:1355–1357PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Koda H (2004) Flexibility and context-sensitivity during the vocal exchange of coo calls in wild Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata yakui). Behaviour 141:1279–1296CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Kojima S (2003) A search for the origins of human speech: Auditory and vocal function of the chimpanzee. Kyoto University Press, KyotoGoogle Scholar
  37. Krebs JR, Aschcroft R, Vanorsdol K (1981) Song matching in the great tit Parus major L. Animal Behaviour 29:918–923CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Marler P (1977) The evolution of communication. In: Sebeok TA (ed) How animals communicate. Indiana University Press, Bloomington, IN, pp 45–70Google Scholar
  39. Marshall AJ, Wrangham RW, Arcadi AC (1999) Does learning affect the structure of vocalizations in chimpanzees? Animal Behaviour 58:825–830PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Masataka N (1992) Pitch characteristics of Japanese maternal speech to infants. Journal of Child Language 19:213–223PubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. Masataka N (2002) Pitch modification when interacting with elders: Japanese women with and without experience with infants. Journal of Child Language 29:939–951PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Masataka N, Biben M (1987) Temporal rules regulating affiliative vocal exchanges of squirrel monkeys. Behaviour 101:311–319CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Masataka N, Symmes D (1986) Effect of separation distance on isolation call structure in squirrel monkeys (Saimiri sciureus). American Journal of Primatology 10:271–278CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. McGregor PK, Dabelsteen T, Shepherd M, Pedersen SB (1992) The signal value of matched singing in great tits—Evidence from interactive playback experiments. Animal Behaviour 43:987–998Google Scholar
  45. Miller PJO, Shapiro AD, Tyack PL, Solow AR (2004) Call-type matching in vocal exchanges of free-ranging resident killer whales, Orcinus orca. Animal Behaviour 67:1099–1107CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Mitani JC, Brandt KL (1994) Social factors influence the acoustic variability in the long-distance calls of male chimpanzees. Ethology 96:233–252CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Mitani JC, Hasegawa T, Groslouis J, Marler P, Byrne R (1992) Dialects in wild chimpanzees. American Journal of Primatology 27:233–243CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Owren MJ, Dieter JA, Seyfarth RM, Cheney DL (1992) Food calls produced by adult female rhesus (Macaca mulatta) and Japanese (M. fuscata) macaques, their normallyraised offspring, and offspring cross-fostered between species. Behaviour 120:218–231CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Papousek M, Hwang SFC (1991) Tone and intonation in mandarine Babytalk to presyllabic infants—Comparison with registers of adult conversation and foreign-language instruction. Applied Psycholinguistics 12:481–504Google Scholar
  50. Pegg JE, Werker JF, McLeod PJ (1992) Preference for infant-directed over adult-directed speech—Evidence from 7-week-old infants. Infant Behavior & Development 15: 325–345CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Rendall D, Rodman PS, Emond RE (1996) Vocal recognition of individuals and kin in free-ranging rhesus monkeys. Animal Behaviour 51:1007–1015CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Rendall D, Cheney DL, Seyfarth RM (2000) Proximate factors mediating “contact” calls in adult female baboons (Papio cynocephalus ursinus) and their infants. Journal of Comparative Psychology 114:36–46PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Schrader L, Todt D (1993) Contact call parameters covary with social context in common marmosets, Callithrix. j. jacchus. Animal Behaviour 46:1026–1028CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Shute B, Wheldall K (1989) Pitch alterations in British motherese—Some preliminary acoustic data. Journal of Child Language 16:503–512PubMedGoogle Scholar
  55. Sibly RM, Nott HMR, Fletcher DJ (1990) Splitting behavior into bouts. Animal Behaviour 39:63–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Smuts BB, Cheney DL, Seyfarth RM, Wrangham RW, Struhsaker TT (1987) Primate societies. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  57. Snowdon CT, Cleveland J (1984) Conversations among pygmy marmosets. American Journal of Primatology 7:15–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Sugiura H (1993) Temporal and acoustic correlaties in vocal exchange of coo calls in Japanese macaques. Behaviour 124:207–225CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Sugiura H (1998) Matching of acoustic features during the vocal exchange, of coo calls by Japanese macaques. Animal Behaviour 55:673–687PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Sugiura H (2001) Vocal exchange of coo calls in Japanese macaques. In: Matsuzawa T (ed) Primate origins of human cognition and behavior. Springer-Verlag Tokyo, Tokyo. pp 135–154Google Scholar
  61. Sugiura H (2007) Adjustment of temporal call usage during vocal exchange of coo calls in Japanese macaques. Ethology 113:528–533CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Sugiura H, Tanaka T, Masataka N (2006) Sound transmission in the habitats of Japanese macaques and its possible effect on population differences in coo calls. Behaviour 143:993–1012CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Tanaka T, Sugiura H, Masataka N (2006) Cross-sectional and longitudinal studies of the development of group differences in acoustic features of coo calls in two groups of Japanese macaques. Ethology 112:7–21CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Werker JF, McLeod PJ (1989) Infant preference for both male and female infant-directed talk—A developmental study of attentional and affective responsiveness. Canadian Journal of Psychology 43:230–246PubMedGoogle Scholar
  65. Winter P (1969) Variability of peep and twit calls in captive squirrel monkeys (Saimiri sciureus). Folia Primatologica 10:204–215CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hiroki Koda
    • 1
  1. 1.Primate Research InstituteKyoto UniversityInuyama, AichiJapan

Personalised recommendations