Monday, 17 August 2015

Apes may be closer to speaking than many scientists think


Date: August 13, 2015

Source: University of Wisconsin-Madison

Summary: Koko the gorilla is best known for a lifelong study to teach her a silent form of communication, American Sign Language. But some of the simple sounds she has learned may change the perception that humans are the only primates with the capacity for speech.

In 2010, Marcus Perlman started research work at The Gorilla Foundation, where Koko has spent more than 40 years living immersed with humans -- interacting for many hours each day with psychologist Penny Patterson and biologist Ron Cohn.

"I went there with the idea of studying Koko's gestures, but as I got into watching videos of her, I saw her performing all these amazing vocal behaviors," says Perlman, now a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of University of Wisconsin-Madison psychology Professor Gary Lupyan.

The vocal and breathing behaviors Koko had developed were not necessarily supposed to be possible.

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