Adults learn to identify pain in babies' cries

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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.

Adults learn to identify pain in babies’ cries. Corvin S, Fauchon C, Peyron R, Reby D, Mathevon N. Current biology. Volume 32, Issue 15, 8 August 2022, Pages R824-R825.


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