Arousal dynamics drive vocal production in marmoset monkeys

Jeremy I. Borjon, Daniel Y. Takahashi, Diego C. Cervantes, Asif A. Ghazanfar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Vocal production is the result of interacting cognitive and autonomic processes. Despite claims that changes in one interoceptive state (arousal) govern primate vocalizations, we know very little about how it influences their likelihood and timing. In this study we investigated the role of arousal during naturally occurring vocal production in marmoset monkeys. Throughout each session, naturally occurring contact calls are produced more quickly, and with greater probability, during higher levels of arousal, as measured by heart rate. On average, we observed a steady increase in heart rate 23 s before the production of a call. Following call production, there is a sharp and steep cardiac deceleration lasting ~8 s. The dynamics of cardiac fluctuations around a vocalization cannot be completely predicted by the animal’s respiration or movement. Moreover, the timing of vocal production was tightly correlated to the phase of a 0.1-Hz autonomic nervous system rhythm known as the Mayer wave. Finally, a compilation of the state space of arousal dynamics during vocalization illustrated that perturbations to the resting state space increase the likelihood of a call occurring. Together, these data suggest that arousal dynamics are critical for spontaneous primate vocal production, not only as a robust predictor of the likelihood of vocal onset but also as scaffolding on which behavior can unfold.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)753-764
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience
  • Physiology


  • Anterior cingulate
  • Autonomic nervous system
  • Default mode
  • Interoception
  • Mayer wave


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