Motor planning for vocal production in common marmosets

Cory T. Miller, Steven J. Eliades, Xiaoqin Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The vocal motor plan is one of the most fundamental and poorly understood elements of primate vocal production. Here we tested whether a single vocal motor plan comprises the full length of a vocalization. We hypothesized that if a single motor plan was determined at vocal onset, the acoustic features early in the call should be predictive of the subsequent call structure. Analyses were performed on two classes of features in marmoset phee calls: continuous and discrete. We first generated correlation matrices of all the continuous features of phee calls. Results showed that the start frequency of a phee's first pulse significantly correlated with all subsequent spectral features. Moreover, significant correlations were evident within both the spectral and temporal features, but there was little relationship between these feature classes. Using a discrete feature, 'the number of pulses in the phee call', a discriminant function was able to correctly classify the number of pulses in the calls well above chance based solely on the acoustic structure of the call's first pulse. Together, these data suggest that a vocal motor plan for the complete call structure is established at call onset. These findings provide a key insight into the mechanisms underlying vocal production in nonhuman primates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1195-1203
Number of pages9
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2009


  • Callithrix jacchus
  • common marmoset
  • primate vocal production
  • vocal motor plan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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