Live-tracking acoustic parameters in animal behavioural experiments: Interactive bioacoustics with parselmouth

Jadoul, Y., D√ľngen, D., & Ravignani, A. (2023). Live-tracking acoustic parameters in animal behavioural experiments: Interactive bioacoustics with parselmouth. In A. Astolfi, F. Asdrubali, & L. Shtrepi (Eds.), Proceedings of the 10th Convention of the European Acoustics Association Forum Acusticum 2023 (pp. 4675-4678). Torino: European Acoustics Association.
Most bioacoustics software is used to analyse the already collected acoustics data in batch, i.e., after the data-collecting phase of a scientific study. However, experiments based on animal training require immediate and precise reactions from the experimenter, and thus do not easily dovetail with a typical bioacoustics workflow. Bridging this methodological gap, we have developed a custom application to live-monitor the vocal development of harbour seals in a behavioural experiment. In each trial, the application records and automatically detects an animal's call, and immediately measures duration and acoustic measures such as intensity, fundamental frequency, or formant frequencies. It then displays a spectrogram of the recording and the acoustic measurements, allowing the experimenter to instantly evaluate whether or not to reinforce the animal's vocalisation. From a technical perspective, the rapid and easy development of this custom software was made possible by combining multiple open-source software projects. Here, we integrated the acoustic analyses from Parselmouth, a Python library for Praat, together with PyAudio and Matplotlib's recording and plotting functionality, into a custom graphical user interface created with PyQt. This flexible recombination of different open-source Python libraries allows the whole program to be written in a mere couple of hundred lines of code
Publication type
Proceedings paper
Publication date
2023

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