PRINCETON, N.J., Aug. 14 (UPI) -- New research proves young marmosets develop vocal abilities by listening to their parents. Hear that kids?
The use of language requires the ability to listen and learn. Humans aren't born with a vocabulary and the innate ability to enunciate. They have the potential -- the physiological tools -- but they learn from their parents, caregivers and peers.
A team of researchers at Princeton University wanted to see if monkeys develop vocalization patterns in a similar way -- to see if physical maturation or mimicry is the primary driver of vocalization.
To find out, researchers recorded and observed the vocalization attempts of a group of marmosets from the first day of birth to two months of age. The monkeys were recorded in isolation and during period of auditory (not visual) exposure to their parents.
The adult marmoset call is a whistle-like "phee." Baby marmosets emit cries, phee cries, and subharmonic phees.
Researchers tracked the infants' transition from cries to phees and compared it to their maturation timeline and their exposure to adult callbacks. Though important, physiological maturation didn't fully explain their changing vocalizations.Their analysis showed that vocal feedback from parents was vital to the vocal learning process.
"These findings overturn decades-old ideas about primate vocalizations and show that marmoset monkeys are a compelling model system for early vocal development in humans," researchers wrote in their new study, published in the journal Science.