MAY 15, 2020 11:00 AM PDT

Can You Hear Body Language?

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

Most people use body language while talking. Often giving subconscious cues about their feelings and ulterior motives, up until recently, it was thought to have a purely visual purpose. Now though, researchers have found that we can pick up on others’ body language even without looking at them. But how?

In a study, researchers recorded three men and three women making monotone sounds (like ‘aaa’) while moving their hands and arms in different ways. Afterwards, they asked 30 subjects to listen to the recordings and guess how they were moving. 

In the end, not only were the subjects able to correctly guess how the men and women moved, they were also able to mimic them. Although differences in pitch and volume are relatively easy to detect, the researchers were surprised that the subjects could also subconsciously recognize how movement causes these differences. 

 “When you hear a voice, you literally hear aspects of a person’s entire body.” says Wim Pouw, the leader of the study and a researcher at the University of Connecticut. “It contributes to the understanding that there is a closer relationship between spoken language and gestures. Hand gestures may have been created to support the voice, to emphasize words, for example.”

The researchers found that body language affects our vocal acoustics in both pitch and volume. While a wrist movement may lead to a very subtle change in both measures, an arm movement creates a bigger change. Speed also has an impact. As movements slow down, pitch tends to slightly increase.

These findings contradict previous assumptions that body language only serves a visual purpose. They also contribute to knowledge about both human communication and speech recognition. In particular, the researchers see that their findings may be able to inform speech recognition technology on how to account for movement when deciphering what people say. 

 

Sources: Neuroscience News, Medical Xpress

 

About the Author
  • Science writer with keen interests in technology and behavioral biology. Her current focus is on the interplay between these fields to create meaningful interactions, applications and environments.
You May Also Like
JUN 29, 2020
Neuroscience
Stroke Most Common Brain Side Effect from COVID-19
JUN 29, 2020
Stroke Most Common Brain Side Effect from COVID-19
Researchers from the UK have identified having a stroke as the most common neurological side-effect of COVID-19. They al ...
AUG 04, 2020
Neuroscience
Transcranial Stimulation Disrupts Fearful Memories
AUG 04, 2020
Transcranial Stimulation Disrupts Fearful Memories
Disrupting negative memory formation has been a challenge for years- involving treatments ranging from psychotherapy to ...
AUG 12, 2020
Neuroscience
Low Exposure to Air Pollution May Cause Irregular Brain Development
AUG 12, 2020
Low Exposure to Air Pollution May Cause Irregular Brain Development
A new study shows that even low air pollution levels can influence the development of children’s brains.  It ...
SEP 08, 2020
Neuroscience
Thyroid Inflammation Linked to Anxiety Disorder
SEP 08, 2020
Thyroid Inflammation Linked to Anxiety Disorder
Findings from a new study suggest that people with autoimmune inflammation in their thyroid may be more likely to develo ...
SEP 15, 2020
Neuroscience
Smartphone Data Can Predict Depression and Anxiety
SEP 15, 2020
Smartphone Data Can Predict Depression and Anxiety
Researchers from Dartmouth College have found that passively-collected data from smartphones is able to predict a person ...
SEP 24, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
2-In-1: Stroke Scans Also Diagnose COVID
SEP 24, 2020
2-In-1: Stroke Scans Also Diagnose COVID
King’s College London researchers took a closer look at emergency room CT scans of patients suspected of having a ...
Loading Comments...