lecture9 - Perceiving personal characteristics from voice...

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Perceiving personal characteristics from voice Part II: Sex
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Is sex necessary? Sexual dimorphism (physical differences between the males and females of a species) is a basic organizing principle of mammalian biology. An individual’s sex is one of the most important aspects of that person’s identity, and voice is an important way in which males and females identify each other.
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Is sex necessary? Many animal species, including big brown bats, baboons, and harp seals, use voice in this way. Loss of vocal information about sex interferes with social functioning. Misidentifications of a speaker’s sex are embarrassing and upsetting for all parties. Patients with some kinds of severe voice disorders can speak fluently if they use falsetto, but prefer silence because of the misleading or ambiguous information it provides about the speaker’s sex.
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Quick review: Sex-based differences in laryngeal physiology A man’s larynx is about 20% larger than a woman’s. The length of the membranous part of the vocal folds differs in men and women by about 60%. The layered structure of the vocal folds is quite similar in men and women, although hormonal changes in older women may produce edema that changes tissue viscoelasticity.
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Sex-based differences in vocal fold vibration The layered structure of the vocal folds is similar for both sexes. Differences between males and females occur in the pattern of vocal fold vibration (as well as in the rate of vibration). Men’s folds close more quickly than they open, producing an asymmetrically shaped source pulse. Women’s vocal folds typically open and close smoothly, in a quasi-sinusoidal fashion. For many women the vocal folds do not close completely during each phonatory cycle. As a result of these differences, women’s voices are often described as “breathier” or “weaker” than male voices.
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[figure—male vs. female glottal pulses]
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Quick review: Acoustic differences between male and female voices Mean F0 for men and women differs by about an octave. Male average F0 = about 115 Hz Female average = about 220 Hz
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F0 and sex Differences in vocal fold length account for most of the difference between men and women in F0, BUT… Differences in F0 between sexes greatly exceed their difference in overall body size.
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Evolutionary significance? This suggests that vocal fold length in male humans has evolved as a dramatic exaggeration that serves as a secondary sexual dimorphic characteristic distinguishing adult males from prepubescent males and females.
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Pitch variability and sex Women's intonation is often described as “more dynamic” than men’s. Wider pitch range Sharper changes in pitch May use rising, question-like intonation on statements more often than men do (pitch contours have been associated with more effeminate speech in males) Men’s voices are often described as more monotone.
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Is this really true?
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