There's a Reason Babies Respond To High-Pitched Baby Talk

1 of 13

There's a Reason Babies Respond To High-Pitched Baby Talk

Ever noticed how your voice shoots up a couple of octaves when you see a baby? For most of us, this change in tone is seemingly involuntary. While research varies on whether or not using a baby voice when speaking to your baby is beneficial, they do agree that babies prefer to listen to these high-pitched tones. Let the peekaboos commence!In a 2015 study by McGill University, Canadian researchers discovered that 6-month-old infants were much more attracted to their own speech patterns than those of adults. The infants listened to "a repeating vowel sound that mimicked those made by an adult woman or those by a baby" using a synthesis tool. Researchers measured the length of each infant's attention span. On average, the infants listened to a fellow baby's vowels 40 percent longer than the adult woman's vowels. It's important to note that the "infant-like vowel sounds that they heard were not yet part of their everyday listening experience." Meaning, the babies weren't partial to their own kind simply out of familiarity. Knowing infants' speech preferences can help us design more effective tools in developing their speech.

Vocal Fry Is The Fancy Term For A Creaky Voice

2 of 13

Vocal Fry Is The Fancy Term For A Creaky Voice

You've definitely heard it before: that low, creaky way of speaking, especially by young women at the end of a sentence. It's called vocal fry, and though its spread through pop culture probably began with a 2010 study in American Speech, it's been around much longer. One of the earliest mentions of vocal fry, or "creaky voice," was in 1964 by linguist John C. Catford, and the sound is a standard phoneme in many other languages. But that aforementioned 2010 paper was among the first to recognize it as a phenomenon in young American women. It found that female college students in California used vocal fry much more often than their male peers, and that college students generally perceive women speaking in such a way as "hesitant, nonaggressive, and informal but also educated, urban-oriented, and upwardly mobile." Even so, men do it too: in 2015, The Toast compiled video clips of men like Johnny Depp and Tom Hardy using vocal fry. And in an episode of This American Life, host Ira Glass pointed out that despite the fact he uses it constantly, the only complaints about vocal fry that the show gets are for its female contributors.

Can Scientists Diagnose Depression With The Sound Of Your Voice?

3 of 13

Can Scientists Diagnose Depression With The Sound Of Your Voice?

Could the sound of your voice tell a doctor if you are depressed? That's the thought behind SimSensei, a system designed to help doctors diagnose depression by analyzing speech patterns. Researchers at the University of Southern California developed the system that they say can work alongside doctors to more accurately diagnose depression in patients.Research shows that reduced frequency range in vowel production is a speech characteristic of people with psychological and neurological disorders. The system is programmed to specifically identify reductions in vowel expression — a characteristic associated with depression — that human interviewers may not recognize. In a 2009 study, doctors misdiagnosed depression half the time. SimSensei is looking to vastly reduce that percentage. Watch the videos below for more information on depression.

Mel Blanc Voiced Every Cartoon Character You Watched Growing Up

4 of 13

Mel Blanc Voiced Every Cartoon Character You Watched Growing Up

You may not have heard of Mel Blanc, but you're almost certainly familiar with his voice. The voice actor developed and voiced Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and about 400 others. His voice can be heard in nearly 3,000 animated cartoons, and he worked until he was 80 years old. You can hear him as Porky Pig, Tweety Bird, Sylvester the Cat, Yosemite Sam, Foghorn Leghorn, Marvin the Martian, Pepé Le Pew, Speedy Gonzales, Wile E. Coyote, the Tasmanian Devil, and many more.

Why Does Your Voice Sound So Different On A Recording?

5 of 13

Why Does Your Voice Sound So Different On A Recording?

When you hear your voice on a recording, it's hard to quell a feeling of distaste. "Is that really what I sound like?" you might wonder. And unfortunately, the answer is yes, because that voice is unaffected by bone conduction. When you speak, your vocal cords cause vibrations to pass through your skull, and your skull's acoustics lower the frequency of your voice's sound waves. Subsequently, you perceive your voice as deeper and more resonant than it actually is.

02:12

Key Facts to Know

  • 1

    When played back on a recording, your voice sounds higher and tinnier than the one you hear when speaking. 0:16

  • 2

    Your skull lowers the frequency of the vibrations made by your voice. 0:41

  • 3

    Most people dislike the sound of their own voice on recordings because they're accustomed to the deeper version conducted by their bones. 1:24