Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Your voice carries information about your upper body movements.

Fascinating observations by Pouw et al.:
We show that the human voice carries an acoustic signature of muscle tensioning during upper limb movements which can be detected by listeners. Specifically, we find that human listeners can synchronize their own movements to very subtle wrist movements of a vocalizer only by listening to their vocalizations and without any visual contact. This study shows that the human voice contains information about dynamic bodily states, breaking ground for our understanding of the evolution of spoken language and nonverbal communication. The current findings are in line with other research on nonhuman animals, showing that vocalizations carry information about bodily states and capacities.
We show that the human voice has complex acoustic qualities that are directly coupled to peripheral musculoskeletal tensioning of the body, such as subtle wrist movements. In this study, human vocalizers produced a steady-state vocalization while rhythmically moving the wrist or the arm at different tempos. Although listeners could only hear and not see the vocalizer, they were able to completely synchronize their own rhythmic wrist or arm movement with the movement of the vocalizer which they perceived in the voice acoustics. This study corroborates recent evidence suggesting that the human voice is constrained by bodily tensioning affecting the respiratory–vocal system. The current results show that the human voice contains a bodily imprint that is directly informative for the interpersonal perception of another’s dynamic physical states.

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