Wonder what a talking monkey would sound like Scientists create recording based

first_imgBart de Boer of the VUB Artificial Intelligence Laboratory in Belgium then turned the information into a computer model that could predict and simulate a macaque’s vocal range based on the physical attributes.Human speech stems from a source sound produced by the larynx that is changed by the positions of the vocal anatomy such as the lips and tongue. They found that a macaque could produce comprehensible vowel sounds — and even full sentences — with its vocal tract if it had the neural ability to speak.”This new result tells us that there’s still a big mystery concerning where human speech came from,” said Laurie Santos, a psychology professor at Yale University.”The paper opens whole new doors for finding the key to the uniqueness of humans’ unparalleled language ability.”If a species as old as a macaque has a vocal tract capable of speech, then we really need to find the reason that this didn’t translate for later primates into the kind of speech sounds that humans produce.”I think that means we’re in for some exciting new answers soon.”Thore Jon Bergman, an assistant professor of psychology and ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Michigan, said that the research could help narrow down the origin of human speech.”It looks like mainly neuro-cognitive — as opposed to anatomical — differences contribute to the broader range of sounds we produce relative to other primates,” said Dr Bergman, who is familiar with the research but was not involved in it.”An important part of understanding human uniqueness is to know what our relatives do,” he said. “This study shows that the anatomical capability to make a variety of sounds, as we do with speech, was present long ago. This is useful for understanding the starting point for the evolution of language.”The research was published in the journal Science Advances. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. A monkey x-ray  It sounds like the gentle whisper of someone proposing marriage.But the recording below is actually the sound of how a monkey could speak, if it had the brain power for language.Scientists at Princeton have discovered that monkeys have a vocal anatomy which is capable of ‘clearly intelligible’ speech, just like humans.So the fact that they don’t speak is down to differences in brain structure which suggests that human speech stems from the unique evolution and is not linked to vocalization-related anatomical differences between humans and primates.”Now nobody can say that it’s something about the vocal anatomy that keeps monkeys from being able to speak — it has to be something in the brain,” said Dr Asif Ghazanfar, a Princeton University.”Even if this finding only applies to macaque monkeys, it would still debunk the idea that it’s the anatomy that limits speech in non-humans. Now, the interesting question is, what is it in the human brain that makes it special?”Previous examinations of primate vocal anatomy conducted on cadavers had concluded that monkeys and apes have a very limited range of sounds they could produce relative to humans.In the new research, the team used x-ray videos to capture the macaque’s vocal anatomy, such as tongue, lips and larynx.  A monkey x-ray last_img

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