Video: Emotions At The Speed Of Sound - Research
It only takes our brain one tenth of a second to recognize emotions conveyed by voice. It does not matter at all whether these sounds are an identification of anger, joy or sadness. More importantly, scientists have found that we pay much more attention to vocalized emotions than to those expressed in words.
Researchers at McGill University believe that the speed at which the brain reacts to and favors emotional sounds over words is due to the fact that vocalization played an important role in human survival. “The identification of emotional vocalizations is associated with areas of the brain that are more ancient in evolutionary development,” notes Mark Pell, lead author of the study. Recognition of emotions expressed in spoken language involves other areas of the brain that developed much later and are partially associated with the emergence of language.
In their study, the researchers looked for differences between how the brain responds to emotional manifestations without the participation of speech (laughing, sobbing, screaming), and what happens if speech utterances are added. Psychologists focused on three basic emotions - anger, sadness, and joy - and asked 24 subjects to randomly listen to various recordings, where both sound and verbal manifestations of feelings were recorded. At the same time, in order to avoid linguistic discrepancies, only meaningless phrases were used.
The respondents had to answer what emotions, in their opinion, this or that record conveys. In parallel, data were recorded using EEG, which made it possible to determine how quickly and how the brain reacted to one or another audio track. As a result, scientists were able to measure three important parameters:
- how fast the brain reacts to vocalizations and verbal expressions of emotion;
- whether the brain determines certain emotions faster if they are expressed with the help of sounds;
- whether people's sensitivity to emotional vocalizations is related to the strength of the brain's reactions to these sounds.
For example, scientists found that participants in the experiment responded faster to sounds that signaled joy, and recognition of sad and angry vocalizations was slightly slower. At the same time, the researchers noticed an interesting feature: angry sounds and angry verbal statements led to a longer and more active brain activity. This is probably due to the fact that the brain attaches special importance to such signals.
According to psychologists, these findings suggest that the brain focuses especially on the perception of angry voices in order to identify potentially dangerous and threatening events. The researchers also found that people with increased anxiety generally respond more quickly to emotional voices than those who are naturally calm and level-headed. Therefore, it is sometimes useful to remind yourself that a loud, menacing voice is not a reason for alarm and concern, but rather for analyzing the situation.
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