Abstract # 35:

Scheduled for Saturday, September 19, 2009 04:00 PM-04:20 PM: Session 4 (Mission Bay Ballroom AB) Symposium


HEAR ME, FEEL ME: THE DUAL ROLES OF EMOTION IN VOCALIZATIONS OF NONHUMAN AND HUMAN PRIMATES

M. J. Owren
Georgia State University, Department of Psychology, PO Box 5010, Atlanta, GA 30302-5010, USA
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Emotion is central in both nonhuman primate vocal production and in the responses that occur to vocalizations. However, the underlying neural processes are importantly different in the two cases, which in turn have significant implications for the communication process. On the production side, vocalizations are emotion-triggered and mediated by limbic pathways. Lack of cortical control over vocal production thus creates an important obstacle to volitional signaling. However, hearing vocalizations from other brings the entire brain into play, eliciting both cortical and subcortical processing, and triggering both emotional and cognitive evaluation of the signaling event. This asymmetry between production and perception can explain a number of otherwise puzzling aspects of emotion and cognition in the vocal behavior of both nonhuman primates and other nonhuman mammals. Thus, while vocalizations in these species are often discussed as having properties similar to those of human language, the more apt comparison is more likely to signals such as human laughter and crying.