Together with colleagues at the University of Manitoba, Canada, and Brown University, USA, AICE researcher Disa Sauter has published a new paper in Cognition and Emotion on whether pre-verbal infants discriminate non-linguistic vocal expressions of positive emotions.
In three studies, the researchers used a habituation paradigm to test whether preverbal infants discriminate between non-linguistic vocal expressions of relief and triumph. Infants as young as 6 months who had habituated to relief or triumph sounds showed significant discrimination of relief and triumph tokens at test, but when using expressions from multiple individuals an asymmetrical pattern was found. Finally, infants tested with vocalisations from individuals from different cultures showed dishabituation later in development (at 10–12 months). These findings suggest that discrimination between positive emotional expressions develops early, but that it is is modulated by learning.