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December 11th, 2009
In the News: Monkey Brains Process Drumming Like Vocalizations
Stubtailed macaques

Stubtailed macaques

Of course monkeys don’t speak to each other in elaborate paragraphs, but they do communicate by vocalizing. Researchers turn to monkeys in an effort to understand some of the most basic foundations of human communication. The idea is that other primates have rudimentary systems that eventually evolved further in human beings to support spoken language.

A new study looked at how macaque monkeys respond to other monkeys’ efforts at communication in the form of drumming or vocalizing. Researchers found that monkeys reacted to both the same way, not just behaviorally but also neurally. Hearing drumming or vocalizations activated overlapping networks in the monkeys’ temporal lobes. To the scientists, this finding suggests a common origin for vocal and nonvocal communication systems. The study lends some support to the idea that language and music evolved side by side in humans.

Does the theory that human speech and language evolved from gestures and rhythmic music make sense to you?

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