Certain human body processes are simply taken for granted, but scientists reveal to us that there could be many interesting aspects in pretty much everything we do. A new study explains how the brain processes screams, proving that we have been wrong to fear them.
Humans usually become easily irritated or scared by the nearby screams they get exposed to. However, a recent study conducted by professors at the University of New York indicates that a similar vocal expression could be interpreted in many ways and could have significant relevance on humans’ interactions.
David Poeppel, the leader of the study group and speech expert at the NYU, began his scientific quest by asking people what scream was, in their opinion. Most of the interviewees have answered saying that scream is a loud noise that people usually utter whenever frightened or hurt. The majority of them have taken into consideration babies’ screams, which are known to draw parents’ attention.
As a consequence, the official definition that scientists have adopted for the scream is that of a fear-inducing high-pitched sound. The explanation was not enough for the researchers, who were later on interested in those factors that make screams scary.
For this purpose, Poeppel has used a large database of YouTube videos, horror films and sounds uttered by volunteer screamers to observe the brain’s reactions to these loud sounds. Based on the analyses that have been performed on these sounds, scientists were able to estimate that screams occupy a sound range that is usually considered useless for communications. Nonetheless, the effect that these utterances have is much more powerful than any other type of communication.
Normal speech is usually set between the 4th and 5th hertz levels, whereas screams have a rapid fluctuation rate that can be positioned anywhere between the 30 and 150 hertz levels. This category of sounds may be describe as “rough” due to the wide hertz levels.
Screams have been later on compared to other types of sounds to better account for the possible differences between them. Scientists looked at the particularities of the sounds emitted by musical instruments, vehicles and car alarms. They have, thus, reached the conclusion that there are very few other sounds that can reproduce the same sound roughness.
Scientists think the findings of the new study could be used to improve soundtracks, videos because people can now better understand the effects of these noises on humans. In the future, researchers plan to study similar phenomena among animal species and also, to study the instances of positive screams, such as, cheering and greeting.
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