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Production and Perception of Nonlinguistic Acoustic Cues

Jo-Anne Bachorowski
Department of Psychology
307 Wilson Hall
615-343-5915 (office)

Bachorowski’s research broadly concerns the production and perception of nonlinguistic acoustic cues, with attention given to social and other contextual influences on signal production as well as the impact of vocal acoustics on listener emotional responding. Towards these ends, empirical work variously involves studying laughter, vocal expression of emotion, indexical cueing in speech, and infant-directed speech. Despite the diversity of signals being studied, the work is anchored by two core themes: understanding the linkages between vocal acoustics and affect-related responding, and developing an empirically based approach to vocal signaling that is defensible from principles associated with the selfish-gene theory of evolution. Research methods used in this research include detailed analysis of vocal signals using state-of-the-art unix-based software, perceptual testing, and structural and functional imaging studies.

Neuroscience students working in lab for research credit will be involved in acoustic analysis of vocal signals and will gain exposure to imaging techniques and analysis. These students will also be involved in data collection, which typically involves collecting audio-recordings of both children and college-aged adults participating in socially interactive paradigms. Depending on their interests, these students can also be highly involved in perceptual testing, including stimulus selection, subject testing, and data analysis. Some current questions of interest in perceptual work include listener responsive to various kinds of laugh sounds and listener judgments of talker body size from very short speech sounds.