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J Acoust Soc Am. 2001 Sep;110(3 Pt 1):1581-97.

The acoustic features of human laughter.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee 37203, USA.


Remarkably little is known about the acoustic features of laughter. Here, acoustic outcomes are reported for 1024 naturally produced laugh bouts recorded from 97 young adults as they watched funny video clips. Analyses focused on temporal features, production modes, source- and filter-related effects, and indexical cues to laugher sex and individual identity. Although a number of researchers have previously emphasized stereotypy in laughter, its acoustics were found now to be variable and complex. Among the variety of findings reported, evident diversity in production modes, remarkable variability in fundamental frequency characteristics, and consistent lack of articulation effects in supralaryngeal filtering are of particular interest. In addition, formant-related filtering effects were found to be disproportionately important as acoustic correlates of laugher sex and individual identity. These outcomes are examined in light of existing data concerning laugh acoustics, as well as a number of hypotheses and conjectures previously advanced about this species-typical vocal signal.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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