Is the Neural Basis of Vocalisation Different in Non-Human Primates and <i>Homo Sapiens?</i>

Detlev Ploog

in The Speciation of Modern Homo Sapiens

Published by British Academy

Published in print January 2004 | ISBN: 9780197263112
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734885 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

Is the Neural Basis of Vocalisation Different in Non-Human Primates and Homo Sapiens?

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From an evolutionary perspective, the voice was a prerequisite for the emergence of speech. Speech, the most advanced mode of vocal communication, became possible only after gradual transformations of the sound-producing system and its central nervous control, in co-evolution with the transformations of the auditory system, had taken place. The discussion suggests that the last step in the evolution of the phonatory system in the brain was the outgrowing and augmenting of the fine fibre portion of the pyramidal tract synapsing directly with the motor nuclei for the vocal cords and the tongue, so that the direct and voluntary control of vocal behaviour became possible. It holds that the answer to the question raised in the title is ‘yes’. The neural basis is in fact quite different. The chapter also explains this difference and its consequences for the evolution of language.

Keywords: speech behaviour; vocal communication; language evolution; central nervous control; auditory system; pyramidcal tract

Chapter.  4306 words. 

Subjects: Prehistoric Archaeology

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