Friday, December 17, 2010

Is Nonverbal Vocal Communication Learned?

Laughter is easily recognized.
This is an interesting study I just read about today. Scientific American's 60 Second Science from November talks about nonverbal communication. They recorded the nonverbal vocal communication sounds made by people who were born deaf (I'm guessing completely deaf, or else the experiment wouldn't work), and then played the sounds for hearing people.

The hearing people were able to identify some sounds, like laughing and sighing in amusement and relief, but certain sounds were harder. The sounds they could not identify were sounds of triumph.

The link above includes a recording during which you can hear the sounds as they were recorded. I'll warn you though... the recording is a bit difficult to hear. That guy talks fast! Still, it's very interesting.

The scientists are considering the idea that some nonverbal vocal communication is instinctual while others have to be learned. What do you think?

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