Human and non-human primates produce rhythmical sounds as soon as they are born. These early vocalizations are important for soliciting the attention of caregivers. How they develop, remains a mystery. The orofacial movements necessary for producing these vocalizations have distinct spatiotemporal signatures. Therefore, their development could potentially be tracked over the course of prenatal life. We densely and longitudinally sampled fetal head and orofacial movements in marmoset monkeys using ultrasound imaging. We show that orofacial movements necessary for producing rhythmical vocalizations differentiate from a larger movement pattern that includes the entire head. We also show that signature features of marmoset infant contact calls emerge prenatally as a distinct pattern of orofacial movements. Our results establish that aspects of the sensorimotor development necessary for vocalizing occur prenatally, even before the production of sound.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
- General Immunology and Microbiology
- General Neuroscience