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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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ScienceShot: How to Understand Dog
7 January 2014 7:15 pm
We humans are good at deciphering others’ emotional states from the sounds they make. A baby’s laugh tells us instantly that she is happy; similarly, we have no trouble knowing that a dog’s spirited bark is a sound of joy. Indeed, previous studies have shown that we’re adept at distinguishing the barks of lonely, angry, and happy dogs. Are there, then, similar features that we listen for when we hear a baby’s laugh and a dog’s happy bark, or a man’s angry cough and a dog’s growl? To find out, a team of researchers devised an online survey to assess how humans perceive the emotional content of human and dog vocalizations. Thirty-nine people were recruited to take the survey. They listened to randomly played nonverbal sounds, such as a woman cooing, a man snorting, a baby giggling, and a dog growling or barking. The volunteers rated each sound on a positive to negative scale and its emotional intensity. The researchers’ statistical analysis revealed a striking relationship between how the listeners rated the emotional aspect of each sound and its acoustics. Thus, shorter calls—whether human or dog—were regarded as more emotionally positive than longer calls; and higher pitched samples were rated as more emotionally intense than lower pitched sounds for both species, the team reports online today in Biology Letters. By following these same simple rules, they conclude, it may be possible to develop easily recognized artificial emotions in social robots.