The evolution of speech: Vision, rhythm, cooperation

Asif A. Ghazanfar, Daniel Y. Takahashi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


A full account of human speech evolution must consider its multisensory, rhythmic, and cooperative characteristics. Humans, apes, and monkeys recognize the correspondence between vocalizations and their associated facial postures, and gain behavioral benefits from them. Some monkey vocalizations even have a speech-like acoustic rhythmicity but lack the concomitant rhythmic facial motion that speech exhibits. We review data showing that rhythmic facial expressions such as lip-smacking may have been linked to vocal output to produce an ancestral form of rhythmic audiovisual speech. Finally, we argue that human vocal cooperation (turn-taking) may have arisen through a combination of volubility and prosociality, and provide comparative evidence from one species to support this hypothesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)543-553
Number of pages11
JournalTrends in Cognitive Sciences
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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