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The role of perceptual learning in emotional vocalizations [Abstract]

Sauter, D., Crasborn, O., & Haun, D. B. M. (2010). The role of perceptual learning in emotional vocalizations [Abstract]. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 128, 2476.
Vocalizations like screams and laughs are used to communicate affective states, but what acoustic cues in these signals require vocal learning and which ones are innate? This study investigated the role of auditory learning in the production of non-verbal emotional vocalizations by examining the vocalizations produced by people born deaf. Recordings were made of congenitally deaf Dutch individuals and matched hearing controls, who produced non-verbal vocalizations of a range of negative and positive emotions. Perception was examined in a forced-choice task with hearing Dutch listeners (n = 25), and judgments were analyzed together with acoustic cues, including envelope, pitch, and spectral measures. Considerable variability was found across emotions and acoustic cues, and the two types of information were related for a sub-set of the emotion categories. These results suggest that auditory learning is less important for the acquisition of certain types of vocalizations than for others (particularly amusement and relief), and they also point to a less central role for auditory learning of some acoustic features in affective non-verbal vocalizations. The implications of these results for models of vocal emotional communication are discussed.
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