We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham Research Online
You are in:

Systems underlying human and old world monkey communication : one, two, or infinite.

Miyagawa, Shigeru and Clarke, Esther (2019) 'Systems underlying human and old world monkey communication : one, two, or infinite.', Frontiers in psychology, 10 . p. 1911.


Using artificially synthesized stimuli, previous research has shown that cotton-top tamarin monkeys easily learn simple AB grammar sequences, but not the more complex An Bn sequences that require hierarchical structure. Humans have no trouble learning An Bn combinations. A more recent study, using similar artificially created stimuli, showed that there is a neuroanatomical difference in the brain between these two kinds of arrays. While the simpler AB sequences recruit the frontal operculum, the An Bn array recruits the phylogenetically newer Broca’s area. We propose that on close inspection, reported vocal repertoires of Old World Monkeys show that these nonhuman primates are capable of calls that have two items in them, but never more than two. These are simple AB sequences, as predicted by previous research. In addition, we suggest the two-item call cannot be the result of a combinatorial operation that we see in human language, where the recursive operation of Merge allows for a potentially infinite array of structures. In our view, the two-item calls of nonhuman primates result from a dual-compartment frame into which each of the calls can fit without having to be combined by an operation such as Merge.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(VoR) Version of Record
Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution.
Download PDF
Publisher Web site:
Publisher statement:Copyright © 2019 Miyagawa and Clarke. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
Date accepted:05 August 2019
Date deposited:18 September 2019
Date of first online publication:03 September 2019
Date first made open access:18 September 2019

Save or Share this output

Look up in GoogleScholar