Early development of turn-taking with parents shapes vocal acoustics in infant marmoset monkeys

Daniel Y. Takahashi, Alicia R. Fenley, Asif A. Ghazanfar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


In humans, vocal turn-taking is a ubiquitous form of social interaction. It is a communication system that exhibits the properties of a dynamical system: two individuals become coupled to each other via acoustic exchanges and mutually affect each other. Human turn-taking develops during the first year of life. We investigated the development of vocal turn-taking in infant marmoset monkeys, a New World species whose adult vocal behaviour exhibits the same universal features of human turn-taking. We find that marmoset infants undergo the same trajectory of change for vocal turn-taking as humans, and do so during the same life-history stage. Our data show that turn-taking by marmoset infants depends on the development of self-monitoring, and that contingent parental calls elicit more mature-sounding calls from infants. As in humans, there was no evidence that parental feedback affects the rate of turn-taking maturation. We conclude that vocal turn-taking by marmoset monkeys and humans is an instance of convergent evolution, possibly as a result of pressures on both species to adopt a cooperative breeding strategy and increase volubility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1693
StatePublished - May 5 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


  • Communicative pragmatics
  • Language evolution
  • Mother–infant
  • Primate vocal development
  • Speech evolution
  • Vocal learning


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