Because the expression of pain in babies’ cries is based on universal acoustic features, we tested wether adult listeners should be able to detect when a crying baby is experiencing pain. We report that detecting that a baby’s cry expresses pain actually requires learning through experience. Our psychoacoustic experiments reveal that adults with no experience of caring for babies are unable to identify whether a baby’s cry is a pain. In contrast, people with prior experience of babies identify a familiar baby’s pain cries without having heard these cries before.
The paper can be downloaded here.
press release here