Absolute auditory thresholds in three Old World monkey species (Cercopithecus aethiops, C. neglectus, Macaca fuscata) and humans (Homo sapiens)

J Comp Psychol. 1988 Jun;102(2):99-107. doi: 10.1037/0735-7036.102.2.99.


We investigated the absolute auditory sensitivities of three monkey species (Cercopithecus aethiops, C. neglectus, and Macaca fuscata) and humans (Homo sapiens). Results indicated that species-typical variation exists in these primates. Vervets, which have the smallest interaural distance of the species that we tested, exhibited the greatest high-frequency sensitivity. This result is consistent with Masterton, Heffner, and Ravizza's (1969) observations that head size and high-frequency acuity are inversely correlated in mammals. Vervets were also the most sensitive in the middle frequency range. Furthermore, we found that de Brazza's monkeys, though they produce a specialized, low-pitched boom call, did not show the enhanced low-frequency sensitivity that Brown and Waser (1984) showed for blue monkeys (C. mitis), a species with a similar sound. This discrepancy may be related to differences in the acoustics of the respective habitats of these animals or in the way their boom calls are used. The acuity of Japanese monkeys was found to closely resemble that of rhesus macaques (M. mulatta) that were tested in previous studies. Finally, humans tested in the same apparatus exhibited normative sensitivities. These subjects responded more readily to low frequencies than did the monkeys but rapidly became less sensitive in the high ranges.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Audiometry, Pure-Tone
  • Auditory Threshold*
  • Cercopithecus / physiology*
  • Chlorocebus aethiops / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Macaca / physiology*
  • Male
  • Species Specificity*