Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
Go
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?

More information:

  • james craig Splain

    I trully believe that the more we look back, the more we can possibly discover about animal and human origins, we will find capabilities far outreaching what we thought possible, and at much earlier times than previously thought. This is a pattern that keeps appearing throughout our evolution in sciences that area about unlocking as much as possible the mysteries of our spark and origins of life on earth and the development of animals and the human animal.
    I believe that although the evidence is not quite prevelant yet, we will also discover, that neanderthal was most likely more developed that we gave credit to previously as well.
    It is more than likely in my opinion that communication started much like in animals, an energy or feeling, smell, sight, and then gestures, rhythms, and vocalizations. There were probably deeper meanings than we could gleen from our current perspective to many of these forms of communications if we could observe there development today. Early humans introspective or self awareness may have been limited at one point, but, its beginnings, I feel, must go back farther than we are willing to admit without further evidence.
    Trying to imagine or discover the ‘first’ moments of standing upright, of an understanding of languange or sounds and what was meant, of the first, Who am I? is perhaps a futile effort, but, I think it must be attempted. Who knows what can be discovered as we go forward, hopefully, go forward as we learn to emphasize our unique oneness and how to treat ourselves and this planet well. Thank you, makers of this program. I hope you keep it going with a follow up!

Produced by THIRTEEN    ©2014 Educational Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.