Cortical processing of complex sounds and species-specific vocalizations in the marmoset monkey (Callithrix jacchus)

Xiaoqin Wang, Siddhartha C. Kadia, Thomas Lu, Li Liang, James A. Agamaite

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Understanding how the brain processes vocal communication sounds remains one of the most challenging problems in neuroscience. Species-specific vocalizations of nonhuman primates are communication sounds used in intraspecies interactions, analogous to speech in humans. Primate vocalizations are of special interest to us because, compared with other animal species, primates share the most similarities with humans in the anatomical structures of their central nervous systems, including the cerebral cortex. Therefore, neural mechanisms underlying perception and production of speciesspecific primate vocalizations may have direct implications for those operating in the human brain for speech processing. Although field studies provide full access to the natural behavior of primates, it is difficult to combine them with physiological studies at the single neuron level in the same animals. The challenge is to develop appropriate primate models for laboratory studies where both vocal behavior and underlying physiological structures and mechanisms can be systematically investigated. This is a crucial step in understanding how the brain processes vocal communication sounds at the cellular and systems levels. Most primates have a well-developed and sophisticated vocal repertoire in their natural habitats; however, for many primate species such as macaque monkeys, vocal activities largely diminish under the captive conditions commonly found in research institutions, due in part to the lack of proper social housing environments. Fortunately, some primate species such as New World monkeys (e.g., marmosets, squirrel monkeys) remain highly vocal in properly configured captive conditions. These primate species can serve as excellent models to study neural mechanisms responsible for processing species-specific vocalizations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPrimate Audition
Subtitle of host publicationEthology and Neurobiology
PublisherCRC Press
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9781420041224
ISBN (Print)0849309565, 9780849309564
StatePublished - Jan 1 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Medicine


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