NCBI ROFL: Science: taking the magic out of children’s laughter since 1993.

By ncbi rofl | March 27, 2013 12:00 pm

Ah, a child’s laughter. You might describe it as magical (or, depending on your mood, kind of annoying). But that’s not quantitative enough! Enter these researchers, who took it upon themselves to finally bring some rigor to the study of children’s laughter. They even classified it into four major types: “exclamatory and dull comment; chuckle; basic, variable, and classical rhythmical; and squeal.” About time.

Vocal affect in three‐year‐olds: A quantitative acoustic analysis of child laughter

“Recordings were obtained of the laughter vocalizations of four 3-year-old children during three sessions of spontaneous free-play between mother and child in a laboratory playroom. Acoustic analysis was used to determine laughter durations, laughter events, F0, and harmonic characteristics, and to suggest a taxonomy of laughter types. Melodic contours were assessed from patterns of F0 change during laughter. Mean duration of laughs ranged from 200 ms to 2.0 s, but events within a laugh were usually about 200-ms duration. Laughs were intuitively classified into four major types, and, following the acoustic analyses, were further defined and classified into types and subtypes of exclamatory and dull comment; chuckle; basic, variable, and classical rhythmical; and squeal. Melodic contours included more rising contours than previously reported for cry, but there was great variability in the types of contours produced especially for rhythmical laughs. The results of the acoustic analyses are discussed in relation to (a) the development of a taxonomy of laughter and (b) different features of the vocal affect characteristics of high-intensity emotion.”

Photo: flickr/cheriejoyful

Related content:
Discoblog: NCBI ROFL: A scientific analysis of kids in a candy store.
Discoblog: NCBI ROFL: An ecological study of glee in small groups of preschool children.
Discoblog: NCBI ROFL: Can a machine tickle?

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NCBI ROFL is the brainchild of two Molecular and Cell Biology graduate students at UC Berkeley and features real research articles from the PubMed database (which is housed by the National Center for Biotechnology information, aka NCBI) that they find amusing (ROFL is a commonly-used internet acronym for "rolling on the floor, laughing"). Follow us on twitter: @ncbirofl


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