Control of Vocal Aggression in Squirrel Monkeys

  • U. Jürgens
Part of the NATO Advanced Science Institutes Series book series (NSSA, volume 56)


The function of an aggressive call is to warn another animal not to continue its momentary activity unless it wishes to risk an attack. Higher vertebrates, such as monkeys, usually do not have a single aggression call, but several ones depending upon the specific context. The squirrel monkey, for instance, our experimental subject, has at least three categories of intra-specific aggression calls, each containing a number of variants. One class consists of growl-like calls (Fig.1, I). They represent threatening calls and are uttered only by self-confident animals. Depending upon the intensity of the threat, that is, the probability that an actual attack or dominance gesture will follow, these calls have a purring-, growling- or spitting-like character. A second class consists of groaning, cawing and shrieking calls (Fig.1, II). These vocalizations are uttered in agonistic situations by less self-confident animals. They express a mixture of aggressive and flight tendencies, and thus may be called defense or protest calls. Depending upon the probability of being followed by actual agonistic behavior patterns, they vary in their acoustic structure from low-pitched harmonious and non- harmonious calls to high-pitched noise-like calls. The third class consists of rhythmic chattering and cackling calls (Fig.1, III).


Squirrel Monkey Vocal Fold Electrode Site Acoustic Structure Hypothalamic Lesion 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • U. Jürgens
    • 1
  1. 1.Max-Planck-Institut für PsychiatrieMünchen 40F.R. of Germany

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