Stage M2 – Origins of speech- determining Neanderthal’s ability to speak using a numerical supra-glottic system aeroacoustic model

The evolutionary development of language during human evolution remains an enigma and a difficult subject to work on. Language involves many organs, not to say the whole body, which makes its study complex. Moreover, in fossils, soft tissues have not been preserved. Since 2020, a multidisciplinary team hosted at the Institute of Computing and Data Sciences (ISCD), Sorbonne Université, has developed a biomechanical model of the vocal apparatus of fossil hominins. In a littlemore than 2 years, we have gathered exceptional data (MRI and scans of human and non-human primates, soft tissues from dissections, vocalizations in natural environment…). Such images were used to generate a finite element model of the tongue, one of the main organs implied in speech production. The new step of this project consists in activating this model and generating sounds via an aero-acoustic approach which allows modeling the generation and propagation of waves inthe supra-glottic system (the vocal tract) by using the principles of fluid mechanics and their interaction with structures. This is a difficult exploratory research, because although acoustic models have already been generated to generate vowels, consonants come from fluid-structure interactions which are more complex to model.

More informations on the link below.