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A chimpanzee recognizes varied acoustical versions of sine-wave and noise-vocoded speech

Abstract

Previous research demonstrated that a language-trained chimpanzee recognized familiar English words in sine-wave and noise-vocoded forms (Heimbauer et al. Curr Biol 21:1210–1214, 2011). However, those results did not provide information regarding processing strategies of the specific acoustic cues to which the chimpanzee may have attended. The current experiments tested this chimpanzee and adult humans using sine-wave and noise-vocoded speech manipulated using specific sine-waves and a different number of noise bands, respectively. Similar to humans tested with the same stimuli, the chimpanzee was more successful identifying sine-wave speech when both SW1 and SW2 were present – the components that are modeled on formants F1 and F2 in the natural speech signal. Results with noise-vocoded speech revealed that the chimpanzee and humans performed best with stimuli that included four or five noise bands, as compared to those with three and two. Overall, amplitude and frequency modulation over time were important for identification of sine-wave and noise-vocoded speech, with further evidence that a nonhuman primate is capable of using top-down processes for speech perception when the signal is altered and incomplete.

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Acknowledgements

We thank the care staff at Georgia State University for their care of Panzee throughout this experiment and the College of Arts and Sciences at Georgia State University for financial support for this project.

Funding

Work was supported by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Science Foundation, GSU’s RCALL and Brains & Behavior programs, the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience under the Science and Technology Centers Program of the National Science Foundation under agreement IBN-9876754, and ERC grant agreement AdG249516. LAH was funded by an RCALL Fellowship and a Duane M. Rumbaugh Fellowship.

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Correspondence to Lisa A. Heimbauer.

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Michael J. Owren deceased (2014).

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Heimbauer, L.A., Beran, M.J. & Owren, M.J. A chimpanzee recognizes varied acoustical versions of sine-wave and noise-vocoded speech. Anim Cogn 24, 843–854 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10071-021-01478-4

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Keywords

  • Chimpanzee
  • Speech perception
  • Acoustic cues