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J Voice. 2011 Jan;25(1):32-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jvoice.2009.06.010. Epub 2010 Apr 8.

Formant characteristics of human laughter.

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Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Tuebingen, Tuebingen, Germany.


Although laughter is an important aspect of nonverbal vocalization, its acoustic properties are still not fully understood. Extreme articulation during laughter production, such as wide jaw opening, suggests that laughter can have very high first formant (F(1)) frequencies. We measured fundamental frequency and formant frequencies of the vowels produced in the vocalic segments of laughter. Vocalic segments showed higher average F(1) frequencies than those previously reported and individual values could be as high as 1100 Hz for male speakers and 1500 Hz for female speakers. To our knowledge, these are the highest F(1) frequencies reported to date for human vocalizations, exceeding even the F(1) frequencies reported for trained soprano singers. These exceptionally high F(1) values are likely to be based on the extreme positions adopted by the vocal tract during laughter in combination with physiological constraints accompanying the production of a "pressed" voice.

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