Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Neuroscientists show that monkeys can decide to call out or keep silent

Date:
September 6, 2013
Source:
Universitaet Tübingen
Summary:
"Should I say something or not?" Human beings are not alone in pondering this dilemma -- animals also face decisions when they communicate by voice. Neurobiologists have now demonstrated that nerve cells in the brain signal the targeted initiation of calls -- forming the basis of voluntary vocal expression.

"Should I say something or not?" Human beings are not alone in pondering this dilemma -- animals also face decisions when they communicate by voice.
Credit: © thawats / Fotolia

"Should I say something or not?" Human beings are not alone in pondering this dilemma -- animals also face decisions when they communicate by voice. University of Tübingen neurobiologists Dr. Steffen Hage and Professor Andreas Nieder have now demonstrated that nerve cells in the brain signal the targeted initiation of calls -- forming the basis of voluntary vocal expression.

When we speak, we use the sounds we make for a specific purpose -- we intentionally say what we think, or consciously withhold information. Animals, however, usually make sounds according to what they feel at that moment. Even our closest relations among the primates make sounds as a reflex based on their mood. Now, Tübingen neuroscientists have shown that rhesus monkeys are able to call (or be silent) on command. They can instrumentalize the sounds they make in a targeted way, an important behavioral ability which we also use to put language to a purpose.

To find out how the neural cells in the brain catalyse the production of controled vocal noises, the researchers taught rhesus monkeys to call out quickly when a spot appeared on a computer screen. While the monkeys solved puzzles, measurements taken in their prefrontal cortex revealed astonishing reactions in the cells there. The nerve cells became active whenever the monkey saw the spot of light which was the instruction to call out. But if the monkey simply called out spontaneously, these nerve cells were not activated. The cells therefore did not signaled for just any vocalisation -- only for calls that the monkey actively decided to make.

The results published in Nature Communications provide valuable insights into the neurobiological foundations of vocalization. "We want to understand the physiological mechanisms in the brain which lead to the voluntary production of calls," says Dr. Steffen Hage of the Institute for Neurobiology, "because it played a key role in the evolution of human ability to use speech." The study offers important indicators of the function of part of the brain which in humans has developed into one of the central locations for controlling speech. "Disorders in this part of the human brain lead to severe speech disorders or even complete loss of speech in the patient," Professor Andreas Nieder explains. The results -- giving insights into how the production of sound is initiated -- may help us better understand speech disorders.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Universitaet Tübingen. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Steffen R. Hage, Andreas Nieder. Single neurons in monkey prefrontal cortex encode volitional initiation of vocalizations. Nature Communications, 2013; 4 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms3409

Cite This Page:

Universitaet Tübingen. "Neuroscientists show that monkeys can decide to call out or keep silent." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 September 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130906102147.htm>.
Universitaet Tübingen. (2013, September 6). Neuroscientists show that monkeys can decide to call out or keep silent. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130906102147.htm
Universitaet Tübingen. "Neuroscientists show that monkeys can decide to call out or keep silent." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130906102147.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) — Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Newsy (July 28, 2014) — The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck at the worst time for them. A new study says that if it hit earlier or later, they might've survived. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) — A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Newsy (July 27, 2014) — The satellite is back under ground control after a tense few days, but with a gecko sex experiment on board, the media just couldn't help themselves. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins