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Note: Research in this publication was not performed at Janelia.
Auditory feedback is critical for the development and maintenance of speech in humans. In contrast, studies of nonhuman primate vocal production generally report that subjects show little reliance on auditory input. We examined the extent to which cotton-top tamarin (Saguinus oedipus) vocal production is sensitive to perturbation of auditory feedback by manipulating the predictability of presentation of a 1 s burst of white noise during the production of the species-specific contact call, the combination long call (CLC). We used three experimental conditions: the Begin condition, in which white noise was presented only during the first half of a recording session, the End condition, in which white noise was presented only in the last half, and the Random condition, in which each call had a 50% probability of receiving white noise playback throughout the recording session, making the auditory feedback unpredictable. In addition we recorded calls before and after the experimental series (Baseline condition) to determine whether any changes induced by modification of auditory feedback persisted. Results showed that playback of white noise during the production of the CLC produced changes in the temporal structure of the CLC: calls were shorter and had fewer pulses, indicating that modification of auditory feedback can interrupt vocal production. In addition, calls that received modified feedback were louder and had longer inter-pulse intervals than those that did not, consistent with an adaptive response to the masking effect of white noise playback. The magnitude of this compensatory effect and the interruption rate were both sensitive to whether the feedback modification occurred at the beginning or end of the experimental session: early feedback produced less interruption and more compensation. Finally, when auditory feedback modification was unpredictable, adaptive changes were observed in both calls that received modified feedback and those that received normal feedback, suggesting that tamarins can generate an expectation of noise playback and increase vocal amplitude in anticipation of masking.