Academic Scholarship

Mapping emotions into acoustic space: The role of voice production

Biological Psychology, 87, 93-98. Elsevier, February 2011

Photo Needed Sona M. Patel, Ph.D.
Department of Speech-Language Pathology
Dr. Klaus R Scherer, Eva Bjorkner, Dr. Johan Sundberg

Research on the vocal expression of emotion has long since used a “fishing expedition” approach to find acoustic markers for emotion categories and dimensions. Although partially successful, the underlying mechanisms have not yet been elucidated. To illustrate that this research can profit from considering the underlying voice production mechanism, we specifically analyzed short affect bursts (sustained/a/vowels produced by 10 professional actors for five emotions) according to physiological variations in phonation (using acoustic parameters derived from the acoustic signal and the inverse filter estimated voice source waveform). Results show significant emotion main effects for 11 of 12 parameters. Subsequent principal components analysis revealed three components that explain acoustic variations due to emotion, including “tension,” “perturbation,” and “voicing frequency.” These results suggest that future work may benefit from theory-guided development of parameters to assess differences in physiological voice production mechanisms in the vocal expression of different emotions.


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