Findings of a recently conducted study unveiled that the unique human ability to recognize a particular sound quality known as pitch is not restricted only to humans. Researchers have found new behavioral evidence that marmosets and ancient monkeys used auditory cues same like humans to distinguish between low and high notes.
A team of researcher at the Johns Hopkins University said the findings of the study suggest that pitch perception might have evolved almost 40 million years ago. It might have helped in vocal communications and song-like vocalizations, they said.
Xiaoqin Wang, professor of biomedical engineering at Johns Hopkins University’s School Of Medicine, said, “Until now, we didn’t think any animal species, perceived it the way we do. Now we know that marmosets, and likely other primate ancestors, do”.
Wang said in a statement that other animal species have also shown pitch perception, but none among them have shown the three specialized features of human pitch perception.
Wang, an auditory neuroscientist and biomedical engineer, has been studying hearing and vocalizations of marmosets from past 20 years. Marmosets are small monkeys native to South America that are highly vocal and social.
The team identified a specific region in the marmosets’ brain that appears to process pitch. They found that nerve cells in that particular region fired only after marmosets were exposed to sounds with pitch, like the shifting in high and low notes.
The researchers highlighted that human brain also show similar activity when exposed to sound. The team’s findings were published online in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.