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How are the babies laughing? Like chimps!




November 7, 2018

November 7, 2018, Acoustic Society of America

Credit: CC0 public domain
A few things can make adults more joyful than the inevitable, laughing laughter of a baby. However, a baby laughs, shows a new study, it differs from the laughter of adults in a crucial way: babies laugh while breathing and breathe in a manner that is extremely similar to inhuman primates.

The research will be described by Disa Sauter, a psychologist and associate professor at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, during a conversation at the 176th meeting of the American Acoustic Society, held in conjunction with the Canadian Acoustical Association 2018 Acoustical Week in Canada, Nov. 5-9 at the Victoria Conference Center in Victoria , Canada.
Together with her psychologist Marquis Crete and graduate student Dianne Venneker from the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, and Bronven Evans, a phonetic at the University College London-Sauter, studied funny pics of 44 children and children from 3 to 18 months. The videos were taken from online videos in which the babies were involved in gaming interaction. The images were then analyzed by 102 listeners recruited from the student psychology population, who assessed the degree to which laughter in each volume was produced at the expiration versus inhalation.
Sauter and her colleagues found that the youngest baby was usually laughing both for inhalation and exhaustion, as well as for non-human primates such as chimpanzees. However, in older baby studies, laughter is primarily produced only at 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 significantly different from the one who laughs from the baby and the chimpanzee. Our current results suggest that this is a gradual, but not sudden, shift," said Sauter, who points out that the transition seems to be is not related to any particular developmental milestones. She noted, however, that these results were based on auditioners' judgments without experience. "We are currently checking the results against the judgments by phonetics who explain the laughter in detail."
Credit: Acoustic Society of America. Sauter said that there is no accepted reason why people, only among primates, laugh only at exhale. One option, she said, is that it is the result of vocal control that people develop as they learn to speak.
Credit: America's Acoustical Society Researchers are currently investigating whether there is a link between the amount of laughter after inhalation and exhalation and the reasons why people laugh, which also changes over the years. In newborns and younger babies, as well as in non-human primates, laughter occurs as a result of physical games such as tingling. In older individuals, laughter can arise from physical games, but also from social interactions.
"In addition, I would be interested to see if our findings relate to other vocalizations of laughter," Sauter said. Finally, research could provide insight into the vocal production of children with developmental disorders. "If we know what sounds the normal development of a baby, it may be interesting to study breast at risk to see if there are early signs of atypical development in early nervous vocalises of emotion."

Explore further:
The ability to identify genuine laughter goes beyond culture, finds research

More information:
Presentation # 3aSC5, "How are babies laughing?" Disa Sauter, Bronven Evans, Dianne Venneker and Mariska Crete will be on Wednesday, November 7, at 9:25 am at the SALON Victoria Conference Center in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. / asa-meetings /

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