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Melchor, Jonathan; Vergara, Jose; Figueroa, Tonatiuh; Moran, Isaac; Lemus, Luis (2021)

FORMANT-BASED RECOGNITION OF WORDS AND OTHER NATURALISTIC SOUNDS IN RHESUS MONKEYS

Front Neurosci 15():
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In social animals, identifying sounds is critical for communication. In humans, the acoustic parameters involved in speech recognition, such as the formant frequencies derived from the resonance of the supralaryngeal vocal tract, have been well documented. However, how formants contribute to recognizing learned sounds in non-human primates remains unclear. To determine this, we trained two rhesus monkeys to discriminate target and non-target sounds presented in sequences of 1-3 sounds. After training, we performed three experiments: (1) We tested the monkeys' accuracy and reaction times during the discrimination of various acoustic categories; (2) their ability to discriminate morphing sounds; and (3) their ability to identify sounds consisting of formant 1 (F1), formant 2 (F2), or F1 and F2 (F1F2) pass filters. Our results indicate that macaques can learn diverse sounds and discriminate from morphs and formants F1 and F2, suggesting that information from few acoustic parameters suffice for recognizing complex sounds. We anticipate that future neurophysiological experiments in this paradigm may help elucidate how formants contribute to the recognition of sounds.