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  Whistling shares a common tongue with speech: Bioacoustics from real-time MRI of the human vocal tract

Belyk, M., Schultz, B. G., Correia, J., Beal, D. S., & Kotz, S. A. (2019). Whistling shares a common tongue with speech: Bioacoustics from real-time MRI of the human vocal tract. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 286(1911): 20191116. doi:10.1098/rspb.2019.1116.

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Belyk, Michel1, 2, 3, Author
Schultz, Benjamin G.3, 4, Author
Correia, Joao3, 5, 6, Author
Beal, Deryk S.2, 7, Author
Kotz, Sonja A.3, 8, Author              
1Department of Speech, Hearing & Phonetic Sciences, University College London, United Kingdom, ou_persistent22              
2Bloorview Research Institute, Toronto, ON, Canada, ou_persistent22              
3Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience, Maastricht University, the Netherlands, ou_persistent22              
4Institute for Logic, Language and Computation, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, ou_persistent22              
5Basque Center on Cognition, Brain and Language, Donostia-San Sebastián, Spain, ou_persistent22              
6Centre for Biomedical Research (CBMR), Universidade do Algarve, Faro, Portugal, ou_persistent22              
7Department of Speech-Language Pathology, University of Toronto, ON, Canada, ou_persistent22              
8Department Neuropsychology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society, ou_634551              


Free keywords: Whistle; Speech; Communication; Tongue; Magnetic Resonance Imaging; Eevolution
 Abstract: Most human communication is carried by modulations of the voice. However, a wide range of cultures has developed alternative forms of communication that make use of a whistled sound source. For example, whistling is used as a highly salient signal for capturing attention, and can have iconic cultural meanings such as the catcall, enact a formal code as in boatswain's calls or stand as a proxy for speech in whistled languages. We used real-time magnetic resonance imaging to examine the muscular control of whistling to describe a strong association between the shape of the tongue and the whistled frequency. This bioacoustic profile parallels the use of the tongue in vowel production. This is consistent with the role of whistled languages as proxies for spoken languages, in which one of the acoustical features of speech sounds is substituted with a frequency-modulated whistle. Furthermore, previous evidence that non-human apes may be capable of learning to whistle from humans suggests that these animals may have similar sensorimotor abilities to those that are used to support speech in humans.


Language(s): eng - English
 Dates: 2019-05-142019-09-062019-09-252019-09
 Publication Status: Published in print
 Pages: -
 Publishing info: -
 Table of Contents: -
 Rev. Type: Peer
 Identifiers: DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2019.1116
PMID: 31551056
PMC: PMC6784732
Other: Epub 2019
 Degree: -



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Project name : -
Grant ID : PDF502954-2017
Funding program : -
Funding organization : Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)
Project name : -
Grant ID : BB/M009742/1
Funding program : -
Funding organization : Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
Project name : -
Grant ID : -
Funding program : -
Funding organization : Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience, Maastricht Brain Imaging Centre
Project name : -
Grant ID : -
Funding program : -
Funding organization : Kimmel Family Opportunity Fund

Source 1

Title: Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
  Abbreviation : Proc. R. Soc. B
Source Genre: Journal
Publ. Info: London : Royal Society
Pages: - Volume / Issue: 286 (1911) Sequence Number: 20191116 Start / End Page: - Identifier: ISSN: 0962-8452
CoNE: https://pure.mpg.de/cone/journals/resource/110975500577295_2