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How do babies confuse? Like chimpanzees!



November 7, 2018

November 7, 2018, America's Acoustic Society

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Few things can delight an adult more easily than a babbling, laughing laugh. However, baby laughter, a new study shows, differs from adult laughter in a basic way: Babies laugh as they exhale and inhale both in a way similar to non-human primates.

The research will be described by Disa Sauter, a psychologist and associate professor at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, during a lecture at the 176th American Acoustic Meeting, held in partnership with the Canadian Acoustics Week 2018 in Canada, 5-9 at the Victoria Conference Center in Victoria, Canada.
Together with her colleagues, psychologist Mariska Kret and graduate Dianne Venneker of Leiden University in the Netherlands, and Bronwen Evans, a telephone operator at University College London-Sauter, studied laughter clips taken from 44 infants and children aged 3 to 18 months. The recordings were taken from online videos where babies were engaged in playful interactions. The recordings were analyzed by 102 listeners, recruited by a population of psychology students, who evaluated the extent to which the laughter in each clip was produced during exhalation versus inhalation.
Sauter and her colleagues found that younger babies often laugh at both inhalation and exhalation, as did non-human primates such as chimpanzees. In older babies studied, however, laughter was mainly created only during exhalation, as is the case with older children and adults.
Credit: Acoustic Society of America
"Adult people sometimes laugh at inhalation, but the percentage is noticeably different from that of babies and chimpanzees laughs." Our results so far show that this is a gradual and not a sudden change, "said Sauter, who notes that the transition does not appear to be linked to any particular development milestones. He noted, however, that these results were based on judgments of listeners. "We are currently monitoring these results against the decisions of the voters, who make detailed annotations of laughter."
Certification: America's acoustic society, Sauter, said there was no acceptable reason why the man, alone among the primates, would only laugh at exhalation. One possibility, he said, is that it is the result of the voice control that people develop as they learn to speak.
Credit: Acoustical Society of America Researchers are currently examining whether there is a link between the amount of laughter produced during inhalation and exhalation and the reasons why people laugh, which also change with age. In babies and young babies, as well as in non-human primates, laughter occurs as a result of physical play such as tannery. In older people, laughter can arise from physical play, but also from social interactions.
"Beyond that, I would like to see if our findings apply to other vocal acts than to laughter," Sauter said. In the end, research could provide information on the vocal production of children with developmental disorders. "If we know what babies usually hear, it may be interesting to study babies who are at risk of seeing if there are very early signs of informal growth in non-verbal speeches of emotions."

Explore further:
The ability to locate genuine joy goes beyond culture, the findings of the study

More information:
Presentation # 3aSC5, "How Do They Laugh Babies?" by Disa Sauter, Bronwen Evans, Dianne Venneker and Mariska Kret will be Wednesday 7 November at 9:25 am. at SALON A at the Victoria Conference Center in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

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