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Ryan J. Morrill, Annika Paukner, Pier F. Ferrari and Asif A. Ghazanfar Monkey lipsmacking develops like the human speech rhythm Developmental Science 15

Version of Record online: 18 APR 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-7687.2012.01149.x

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Across all languages studied to date, audiovisual speech exhibits a consistent rhythmic structure. This rhythm is critical to speech perception. Some have suggested that the speech rhythm evolved de novo in humans. An alternative account – the one we explored here – is that the rhythm of speech evolved through the modification of rhythmic facial expressions. We tested this idea by investigating the structure and development of macaque monkey lipsmacks and found that their developmental trajectory is strikingly similar to the one that leads from human infant babbling to adult speech.

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