Experimental Evidence for Phonemic Contrasts in a Nonhuman Vocal System
Publication Date
June 29, 2015
Journal
PLOS Biology
Authors
Sabrina Engesser, Jodie M. S. Crane, James L. Savage, Andrew F. Russell, et al
Volume
13
Issue
6
Pages
e1002171
DOI
https://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.1002171
Publisher URL
http://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371%2Fjournal.pbio.1002171
PubMed
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26121619
PubMed Central
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4488142
Europe PMC
http://europepmc.org/abstract/MED/26121619
Web of Science
000357339600010
Scopus
84934762529
Mendeley
http://www.mendeley.com/research/experimental-evidence-phonemic-contrasts-nonhuman-vocal-system
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{"title"=>"Experimental evidence for phonemic contrasts in a nonhuman vocal system", "type"=>"journal", "authors"=>[{"first_name"=>"Sabrina", "last_name"=>"Engesser", "scopus_author_id"=>"56707329900"}, {"first_name"=>"Jodie M.S.", "last_name"=>"Crane", "scopus_author_id"=>"56583552400"}, {"first_name"=>"James L.", "last_name"=>"Savage", "scopus_author_id"=>"54984724300"}, {"first_name"=>"Andrew F.", "last_name"=>"Russell", "scopus_author_id"=>"7402736301"}, {"first_name"=>"Simon W.", "last_name"=>"Townsend", "scopus_author_id"=>"24529190300"}], "year"=>2015, "source"=>"PLoS Biology", "identifiers"=>{"issn"=>"15457885", "scopus"=>"2-s2.0-84934762529", "pui"=>"605060010", "doi"=>"10.1371/journal.pbio.1002171", "isbn"=>"1545-7885", "sgr"=>"84934762529", "pmid"=>"26121619"}, "id"=>"c81b9066-ece8-3a04-aa5f-55f656734e07", "abstract"=>"The ability to generate new meaning by rearranging combinations of meaningless sounds is a fundamental component of language. Although animal vocalizations often comprise combinations of meaningless acoustic elements, evidence that rearranging such combinations generates functionally distinct meaning is lacking. Here, we provide evidence for this basic ability in calls of the chestnut-crowned babbler (Pomatostomus ruficeps), a highly cooperative bird of the Australian arid zone. Using acoustic analyses, natural observations, and a series of controlled playback experiments, we demonstrate that this species uses the same acoustic elements (A and B) in different arrangements (AB or BAB) to create two functionally distinct vocalizations. Specifically, the addition or omission of a contextually meaningless acoustic element at a single position generates a phoneme-like contrast that is sufficient to distinguish the meaning between the two calls. Our results indicate that the capacity to rearrange meaningless sounds in order to create new signals occurs outside of humans. We suggest that phonemic contrasts represent a rudimentary form of phoneme structure and a potential early step towards the generative phonemic system of human language.", "link"=>"http://www.mendeley.com/research/experimental-evidence-phonemic-contrasts-nonhuman-vocal-system", "reader_count"=>110, "reader_count_by_academic_status"=>{"Unspecified"=>2, "Professor > Associate Professor"=>3, "Librarian"=>1, "Researcher"=>16, "Student > Doctoral Student"=>5, "Student > Ph. D. Student"=>38, "Student > Postgraduate"=>3, "Student > Master"=>19, "Other"=>5, "Student > Bachelor"=>9, "Lecturer"=>3, "Professor"=>6}, "reader_count_by_user_role"=>{"Unspecified"=>2, "Professor > Associate Professor"=>3, "Librarian"=>1, "Researcher"=>16, "Student > Doctoral Student"=>5, "Student > Ph. D. Student"=>38, "Student > Postgraduate"=>3, "Student > Master"=>19, "Other"=>5, "Student > Bachelor"=>9, "Lecturer"=>3, "Professor"=>6}, "reader_count_by_subject_area"=>{"Unspecified"=>5, "Agricultural and Biological Sciences"=>52, "Arts and Humanities"=>2, "Philosophy"=>1, "Computer Science"=>4, "Economics, Econometrics and Finance"=>1, "Engineering"=>1, "Environmental Science"=>5, "Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology"=>2, "Medicine and Dentistry"=>3, "Neuroscience"=>9, "Design"=>1, "Psychology"=>14, "Social Sciences"=>2, "Linguistics"=>8}, "reader_count_by_subdiscipline"=>{"Medicine and Dentistry"=>{"Medicine and Dentistry"=>3}, "Social Sciences"=>{"Social Sciences"=>2}, "Psychology"=>{"Psychology"=>14}, "Unspecified"=>{"Unspecified"=>5}, "Environmental Science"=>{"Environmental Science"=>5}, "Arts and Humanities"=>{"Arts and Humanities"=>2}, "Design"=>{"Design"=>1}, "Engineering"=>{"Engineering"=>1}, "Neuroscience"=>{"Neuroscience"=>9}, "Economics, Econometrics and Finance"=>{"Economics, Econometrics and Finance"=>1}, "Agricultural and Biological Sciences"=>{"Agricultural and Biological Sciences"=>52}, "Computer Science"=>{"Computer Science"=>4}, "Linguistics"=>{"Linguistics"=>8}, "Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology"=>{"Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology"=>2}, "Philosophy"=>{"Philosophy"=>1}}, "reader_count_by_country"=>{"Colombia"=>1, "Netherlands"=>1, "Belgium"=>1, "United States"=>6, "Luxembourg"=>1, "Japan"=>3, "United Kingdom"=>1, "France"=>2, "Germany"=>1, "Costa Rica"=>1}, "group_count"=>2}

Scopus | Further Information

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Figshare

  • {"files"=>["https://ndownloader.figshare.com/files/2154916"], "description"=>"<p>(A) During P1 element and <i>CAB</i> playbacks, individuals spent comparable proportions of time looking out (χ<sup>2</sup><sub>1</sub> = 0.2, <i>p</i> = 0.6), in movement (χ<sup>2</sup><sub>1</sub> = 1.8; <i>p</i> = 0.2), and looking at the nest (χ<sup>2</sup><sub>1</sub> = 0.5; <i>p</i> = 0.5). (B) Neither P1 nor <i>CAB</i> playbacks provoked an increase in nest-attentiveness over natural flight calls, leading to proportions of time spent looking at the nest during these trials being substantially lower than those generated during natural prompt calls (χ<sup>2</sup><sub>3</sub> = 25.4; <i>p</i> < 0.001). Figures show back-transformed predicted means (±SE) generated from GLMM analyses as outlined in <a href=\"http://www.plosbiology.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pbio.1002171#pbio.1002171.g003\" target=\"_blank\">Fig 3</a> (A) or in which the two-level factor was replaced with a four-level factor (B).</p>", "links"=>[], "tags"=>["Nonhuman Vocal System", "Experimental Evidence", "evidence", "ab", "bab", "animal vocalizations", "contrast", "Phonemic Contrasts", "ability", "combination", "meaning", "phoneme structure", "playback experiments"], "article_id"=>1467777, "categories"=>["Uncategorised"], "users"=>["Sabrina Engesser", "Jodie M. S. Crane", "James L. Savage", "Andrew F. Russell", "Simon W. Townsend"], "doi"=>"https://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.1002171.g005", "stats"=>{"downloads"=>2, "page_views"=>11, "likes"=>0}, "figshare_url"=>"https://figshare.com/articles/_Behavioural_responses_to_artificial_calls_/1467777", "title"=>"Behavioural responses to artificial calls.", "pos_in_sequence"=>0, "defined_type"=>1, "published_date"=>"2015-06-29 03:46:25"}
  • {"files"=>["https://ndownloader.figshare.com/files/2154917", "https://ndownloader.figshare.com/files/2154918", "https://ndownloader.figshare.com/files/2154919", "https://ndownloader.figshare.com/files/2154920", "https://ndownloader.figshare.com/files/2154921"], "description"=>"<div><p>The ability to generate new meaning by rearranging combinations of meaningless sounds is a fundamental component of language. Although animal vocalizations often comprise combinations of meaningless acoustic elements, evidence that rearranging such combinations generates functionally distinct meaning is lacking. Here, we provide evidence for this basic ability in calls of the chestnut-crowned babbler (<i>Pomatostomus ruficeps</i>), a highly cooperative bird of the Australian arid zone. Using acoustic analyses, natural observations, and a series of controlled playback experiments, we demonstrate that this species uses the same acoustic elements (<i>A</i> and <i>B</i>) in different arrangements (<i>AB</i> or <i>BAB</i>) to create two functionally distinct vocalizations. Specifically, the addition or omission of a contextually meaningless acoustic element at a single position generates a phoneme-like contrast that is sufficient to distinguish the meaning between the two calls. Our results indicate that the capacity to rearrange meaningless sounds in order to create new signals occurs outside of humans. We suggest that phonemic contrasts represent a rudimentary form of phoneme structure and a potential early step towards the generative phonemic system of human language.</p></div>", "links"=>[], "tags"=>["Nonhuman Vocal System", "Experimental Evidence", "evidence", "ab", "bab", "animal vocalizations", "contrast", "Phonemic Contrasts", "ability", "combination", "meaning", "phoneme structure", "playback experiments"], "article_id"=>1467778, "categories"=>["Uncategorised"], "users"=>["Sabrina Engesser", "Jodie M. S. Crane", "James L. Savage", "Andrew F. Russell", "Simon W. Townsend"], "doi"=>["https://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.1002171.s001", "https://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.1002171.s002", "https://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.1002171.s003", "https://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.1002171.s004", "https://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.1002171.s005"], "stats"=>{"downloads"=>42, "page_views"=>21, "likes"=>0}, "figshare_url"=>"https://figshare.com/articles/_Experimental_Evidence_for_Phonemic_Contrasts_in_a_Nonhuman_Vocal_System_/1467778", "title"=>"Experimental Evidence for Phonemic Contrasts in a Nonhuman Vocal System", "pos_in_sequence"=>0, "defined_type"=>4, "published_date"=>"2015-06-29 03:46:25"}
  • {"files"=>["https://ndownloader.figshare.com/files/2154909"], "description"=>"<p>(A) Spectrogram of double-element flight call (sequence F1 F2) and triple-element prompt call (sequence P1 P2 P3), taken from different individuals and groups. (B) Discriminant Function Analysis (DFA) output: function 1 explains 95% of the variance in element structure and primarily describes frequency range; function 2 explains the remaining 5% of variance and describes the contrast between start/end frequency (positive loadings) and frequency range (negative loadings) (Materials and Methods; <a href=\"http://www.plosbiology.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pbio.1002171#pbio.1002171.s004\" target=\"_blank\">S1 Text</a>; <a href=\"http://www.plosbiology.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pbio.1002171#pbio.1002171.s001\" target=\"_blank\">S1 Table</a>; <a href=\"http://www.plosbiology.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pbio.1002171#pbio.1002171.s002\" target=\"_blank\">S2 Table</a>). F1 could not be reliably discriminated from P2 (34% errors: <i>T</i><sub>32</sub> = 1.4, <i>p</i> = 0.2) and nor could F2, P1, and P3 be discriminated from each other (27%–32% errors: F2 versus P1: <i>T</i><sub>32</sub> = 0.7, <i>p</i> = 0.4; F2 versus P3: <i>T</i><sub>32</sub> = 1.4, <i>p</i> = 0.2; P1 versus P3: <i>T</i><sub>20</sub> = 0.2, <i>p</i> = 0.8), but F1/P2 could be easily distinguished from F2/P1/P3 (all 0% errors) (<i>T</i><sub>32–44</sub> = 14.1–22.9; all <i>p</i> values < 0.001; <a href=\"http://www.plosbiology.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pbio.1002171#pbio.1002171.s003\" target=\"_blank\">S3 Table</a>). Accordingly, flight calls and prompt calls follow <i>AB</i> and <i>BAB</i> construction, respectively.</p>", "links"=>[], "tags"=>["Nonhuman Vocal System", "Experimental Evidence", "evidence", "ab", "bab", "animal vocalizations", "contrast", "Phonemic Contrasts", "ability", "combination", "meaning", "phoneme structure", "playback experiments"], "article_id"=>1467770, "categories"=>["Uncategorised"], "users"=>["Sabrina Engesser", "Jodie M. S. Crane", "James L. Savage", "Andrew F. Russell", "Simon W. Townsend"], "doi"=>"https://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.1002171.g001", "stats"=>{"downloads"=>0, "page_views"=>7, "likes"=>0}, "figshare_url"=>"https://figshare.com/articles/_Flight_and_prompt_call_structure_/1467770", "title"=>"Flight and prompt call structure.", "pos_in_sequence"=>0, "defined_type"=>1, "published_date"=>"2015-06-29 03:46:25"}
  • {"files"=>["https://ndownloader.figshare.com/files/2154910"], "description"=>"<p>The aviary consisted of six compartments: the back comprised metal meshing (1 cm<sup>2</sup>), allowing the birds an outside view; the two sides were made of aluminium; and the front was specially designed perspex, allowing a one-way view from outside to inside. Occupied compartments contained natural perches, foraging substrate, a feeding station, babbler nest, and sleeping box, while unoccupied compartments contained the playback apparatus. Babbler nests are large (~45 x 30 cm), dome-shaped, with 6 cm diameter entrance hole, and robust. Babblers spent most of their time at mid-height; in all cases, relative to the speaker, birds had to look behind and up to look at the nest. Single birds used compartment 3 (<i>n</i> = 2), pairs of birds used compartments 1 and 3 (<i>n</i> = 1 pair) and trios used compartments 1, 3, and 6 (<i>n</i> = 4 trios) (<a href=\"http://www.plosbiology.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pbio.1002171#pbio.1002171.s005\" target=\"_blank\">S2 Text</a>).</p>", "links"=>[], "tags"=>["Nonhuman Vocal System", "Experimental Evidence", "evidence", "ab", "bab", "animal vocalizations", "contrast", "Phonemic Contrasts", "ability", "combination", "meaning", "phoneme structure", "playback experiments"], "article_id"=>1467771, "categories"=>["Uncategorised"], "users"=>["Sabrina Engesser", "Jodie M. S. Crane", "James L. Savage", "Andrew F. Russell", "Simon W. Townsend"], "doi"=>"https://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.1002171.g002", "stats"=>{"downloads"=>5, "page_views"=>14, "likes"=>0}, "figshare_url"=>"https://figshare.com/articles/_Schematic_of_aviary_setup_/1467771", "title"=>"Schematic of aviary setup.", "pos_in_sequence"=>0, "defined_type"=>1, "published_date"=>"2015-06-29 03:46:25"}
  • {"files"=>["https://ndownloader.figshare.com/files/2154912"], "description"=>"<p>Proportion of time spent engaged in three behaviours of functional relevance differed significantly during the playbacks of the two call types (see text). Figure shows back-transformed predicted means (± standard error [SE]) generated from three Generalized Linear Mixed Models (GLMM), in which the time engaged in each of the three activities (looking out of the aviary, in movement [hopping/flying], and looking at the nest) were fitted as three independent response terms. In each case, response terms were fitted to a binomial error structure with logit link function, time spent in camera view was fitted as the binomial denominator, call type (natural flight versus natural prompt) was fitted as a two-level factor, and individual identity nested within group identity were fitted as random terms.</p>", "links"=>[], "tags"=>["Nonhuman Vocal System", "Experimental Evidence", "evidence", "ab", "bab", "animal vocalizations", "contrast", "Phonemic Contrasts", "ability", "combination", "meaning", "phoneme structure", "playback experiments"], "article_id"=>1467773, "categories"=>["Uncategorised"], "users"=>["Sabrina Engesser", "Jodie M. S. Crane", "James L. Savage", "Andrew F. Russell", "Simon W. Townsend"], "doi"=>"https://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.1002171.g003", "stats"=>{"downloads"=>3, "page_views"=>8, "likes"=>0}, "figshare_url"=>"https://figshare.com/articles/_Responses_to_natural_playbacks_/1467773", "title"=>"Responses to natural playbacks.", "pos_in_sequence"=>0, "defined_type"=>1, "published_date"=>"2015-06-29 03:46:25"}
  • {"files"=>["https://ndownloader.figshare.com/files/2154914"], "description"=>"<p>Behavioural responses of functional relevance remained similar between (A) natural flight calls and switched-element flight calls comprising prompt call elements (natural versus switched-element comparisons: look out: χ<sup>2</sup><sub>1</sub> = 0.02, <i>p</i> = 0.9; hop/fly: χ<sup>2</sup><sub>1</sub> = 0.2, <i>p</i> = 0.6; look nest: χ<sup>2</sup><sub>1</sub> = 0.03, <i>p</i> = 0.9) and (B) natural prompt calls and switched-element prompt calls using the two flight call elements (natural versus switched-element comparisons: look out: χ<sup>2</sup><sub>1</sub> = 0.2, <i>p</i> = 0.6; hop/fly: χ<sup>2</sup><sub>1</sub> = 1.3, <i>p</i> = 0.3; look nest: χ<sup>2</sup><sub>1</sub> = 0.01, <i>p</i> = 0.9). (C) Behavioural responses to switched-element flight and switched-element prompt calls differed significantly or showed a non-significant tendency to do so (switched-element flight versus switched-element prompt call comparisons: look out: χ<sup>2</sup><sub>1</sub> = 5.7, <i>p</i> = 0.02; hop/fly: χ<sup>2</sup><sub>1</sub> = 3.2, <i>p</i> = 0.09; look nest: χ<sup>2</sup><sub>1</sub> = 10.0, <i>p</i> = 0.002). Analyses were conducted as above (<a href=\"http://www.plosbiology.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pbio.1002171#pbio.1002171.g003\" target=\"_blank\">Fig 3</a>) except that in (A) and (B) (which are shown separately for clarity) stimulus type (natural versus switched-element) and its interaction with call type were added as additional fixed effects, while in (C), natural flight and prompt calls were replaced with switched-element ones. All figures show back-transformed predicted means (±SE).</p>", "links"=>[], "tags"=>["Nonhuman Vocal System", "Experimental Evidence", "evidence", "ab", "bab", "animal vocalizations", "contrast", "Phonemic Contrasts", "ability", "combination", "meaning", "phoneme structure", "playback experiments"], "article_id"=>1467775, "categories"=>["Uncategorised"], "users"=>["Sabrina Engesser", "Jodie M. S. Crane", "James L. Savage", "Andrew F. Russell", "Simon W. Townsend"], "doi"=>"https://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.1002171.g004", "stats"=>{"downloads"=>1, "page_views"=>6, "likes"=>0}, "figshare_url"=>"https://figshare.com/articles/_Responses_to_calls_with_and_without_reciprocal_element_exchange_/1467775", "title"=>"Responses to calls with and without reciprocal element exchange.", "pos_in_sequence"=>0, "defined_type"=>1, "published_date"=>"2015-06-29 03:46:25"}

PMC Usage Stats | Further Information

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Relative Metric

{"start_date"=>"2015-01-01T00:00:00Z", "end_date"=>"2015-12-31T00:00:00Z", "subject_areas"=>[]}
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