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Decoding of Baby Calls: Can Adult Humans Identify the Eliciting Situation from Emotional Vocalizations of Preverbal Infants?

Lindová J, Špinka M, Nováková L - PLoS ONE (2015)

Bottom Line: The best discriminated situation, Play, was associated with high perceived intensity.Parenthood and younger age, but not gender of listeners, had weak positive effects on the accuracy of judgments.Our results indicate that adults almost flawlessly distinguish positive and negative infant sounds, but are rather inaccurate regarding identification of the specific needs of the infant and may normally employ other sensory channels to gain this information.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Faculty of Humanities, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic; National Institute of Mental Health, Klecany, Czech Republic.

ABSTRACT
Preverbal infants often vocalize in emotionally loaded situations, yet the communicative potential of these vocalizations is not well understood. The aim of our study was to assess how accurately adult listeners extract information about the eliciting situation from infant preverbal vocalizations. Vocalizations of 19 infants aged 5-10 months were recorded in 3 negative (Pain, Isolation, Demand for Food) and 3 positive (Play, Reunion, After Feeding) situations. The recordings were later rated by 333 adult listeners on the scales of emotional valence and intensity. Subsequently, the listeners assigned the eliciting situations in a forced choice task. Listeners were almost perfectly able to discriminate whether a recording came from a negative or a positive situation. Their discrimination may have been based on perceived valence as they consistently assigned higher valence when listening to positive, and lower valence when listening to negative, recordings. Ability to identify the particular situation within the negative or positive realm was substantially weaker, with only three of the six situations being discriminated above chance. The best discriminated situation, Play, was associated with high perceived intensity. The weak qualitative discrimination of negative situations seemed to be based on graded perception of negative recordings, from the most intense and unpleasant (assigned to Pain) to the least intense and least unpleasant (assigned to Demand for Food). Parenthood and younger age, but not gender of listeners, had weak positive effects on the accuracy of judgments. Our results indicate that adults almost flawlessly distinguish positive and negative infant sounds, but are rather inaccurate regarding identification of the specific needs of the infant and may normally employ other sensory channels to gain this information.

No MeSH data available.


Recordings from the six eliciting situations recognized by the greatest proportion of participants.Note: A—Pain, B—Isolation, C—Demand for Food, D—Play, E—Reunion, F—After Feeding.
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pone.0124317.g001: Recordings from the six eliciting situations recognized by the greatest proportion of participants.Note: A—Pain, B—Isolation, C—Demand for Food, D—Play, E—Reunion, F—After Feeding.

Mentions: Mothers (or other caretakers), recruited by snowball sampling, themselves recorded their infants on a Yamaha Pocketrak C24 recorder lent by the researchers for a financial compensation of 500 CZK (apprx. $25). They were instructed orally and in a written form to record at least 30 s of each situation within their everyday routines. Not all caregivers were able to obtain all records, which resulted in a final set of 13 records for Pain, 14 records for Reunion, 17 records for After Feeding and Play, and 18 records for Demand for Food and Isolation (for examples of recordings, see Fig 1). None of the recordings obtained included babbling.


Decoding of Baby Calls: Can Adult Humans Identify the Eliciting Situation from Emotional Vocalizations of Preverbal Infants?

Lindová J, Špinka M, Nováková L - PLoS ONE (2015)

Recordings from the six eliciting situations recognized by the greatest proportion of participants.Note: A—Pain, B—Isolation, C—Demand for Food, D—Play, E—Reunion, F—After Feeding.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4403804&req=5

pone.0124317.g001: Recordings from the six eliciting situations recognized by the greatest proportion of participants.Note: A—Pain, B—Isolation, C—Demand for Food, D—Play, E—Reunion, F—After Feeding.
Mentions: Mothers (or other caretakers), recruited by snowball sampling, themselves recorded their infants on a Yamaha Pocketrak C24 recorder lent by the researchers for a financial compensation of 500 CZK (apprx. $25). They were instructed orally and in a written form to record at least 30 s of each situation within their everyday routines. Not all caregivers were able to obtain all records, which resulted in a final set of 13 records for Pain, 14 records for Reunion, 17 records for After Feeding and Play, and 18 records for Demand for Food and Isolation (for examples of recordings, see Fig 1). None of the recordings obtained included babbling.

Bottom Line: The best discriminated situation, Play, was associated with high perceived intensity.Parenthood and younger age, but not gender of listeners, had weak positive effects on the accuracy of judgments.Our results indicate that adults almost flawlessly distinguish positive and negative infant sounds, but are rather inaccurate regarding identification of the specific needs of the infant and may normally employ other sensory channels to gain this information.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Faculty of Humanities, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic; National Institute of Mental Health, Klecany, Czech Republic.

ABSTRACT
Preverbal infants often vocalize in emotionally loaded situations, yet the communicative potential of these vocalizations is not well understood. The aim of our study was to assess how accurately adult listeners extract information about the eliciting situation from infant preverbal vocalizations. Vocalizations of 19 infants aged 5-10 months were recorded in 3 negative (Pain, Isolation, Demand for Food) and 3 positive (Play, Reunion, After Feeding) situations. The recordings were later rated by 333 adult listeners on the scales of emotional valence and intensity. Subsequently, the listeners assigned the eliciting situations in a forced choice task. Listeners were almost perfectly able to discriminate whether a recording came from a negative or a positive situation. Their discrimination may have been based on perceived valence as they consistently assigned higher valence when listening to positive, and lower valence when listening to negative, recordings. Ability to identify the particular situation within the negative or positive realm was substantially weaker, with only three of the six situations being discriminated above chance. The best discriminated situation, Play, was associated with high perceived intensity. The weak qualitative discrimination of negative situations seemed to be based on graded perception of negative recordings, from the most intense and unpleasant (assigned to Pain) to the least intense and least unpleasant (assigned to Demand for Food). Parenthood and younger age, but not gender of listeners, had weak positive effects on the accuracy of judgments. Our results indicate that adults almost flawlessly distinguish positive and negative infant sounds, but are rather inaccurate regarding identification of the specific needs of the infant and may normally employ other sensory channels to gain this information.

No MeSH data available.