Neural lateralization of species-specific vocalizations by Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata)

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Science  20 Oct 1978:
Vol. 202, Issue 4365, pp. 324-327
DOI: 10.1126/science.99817


Five Japanese macaques and five other Old World monkeys were trained to discriminate among field-recorded Japanese macaque vocalizations. One task required discrimination of a communicatively relevant acoustic feature ("peak"), and a second required discrimination of an orthogonal feature of the same vocalizations ("pitch"). The Japanese animals more proficiently discriminated the peak feature when stimuli were presented to the right ear (primarily left cerebral hemisphere), as opposed to the left ear (primarily right hemisphere). In discriminating the pitch feature, the Japanese animals either showed (i) a left-ear processing advantage or (ii) no ear advantage. The comparison animals, with one exception, showed no ear advantage in processing either feature of the vocalizations. The results suggest that Japanese macaques engage left-hemisphere processors for the analysis of communicatively significant sounds that are analogous to the lateralized mechanisms used by humans listening to speech.

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