Interactive rhythms across species: the evolutionary biology of animal chorusing and turn-taking

Andrea Ravignani, Laura Verga, Michael D. Greenfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


The study of human language is progressively moving toward comparative and interactive frameworks, extending the concept of turn-taking to animal communication. While such an endeavor will help us understand the interactive origins of language, any theoretical account for cross-species turn-taking should consider three key points. First, animal turn-taking must incorporate biological studies on animal chorusing, namely how different species coordinate their signals over time. Second, while concepts employed in human communication and turn-taking, such as intentionality, are still debated in animal behavior, lower level mechanisms with clear neurobiological bases can explain much of animal interactive behavior. Third, social behavior, interactivity, and cooperation can be orthogonal, and the alternation of animal signals need not be cooperative. Considering turn-taking a subset of chorusing in the rhythmic dimension may avoid overinterpretation and enhance the comparability of future empirical work.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-21
Number of pages10
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019

Bibliographical note

© 2019 The Authors.Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of New York Academy of Sciences.


  • bioacoustics
  • cooperation
  • interaction
  • language evolution
  • speech rhythm
  • synchrony


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