Expression of emotional valence in pig closed-mouth grunts: Involvement of both source- and filter-related parameters

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Emotion expression plays a crucial role for regulating social interactions. One efficient channel for emotion communication is the vocal-auditory channel, which enables a fast transmission of information. Filter-related parameters (formants) have been suggested as a key to the vocal differentiation of emotional valence (positive versus negative) across species, but variation in relation to emotions has rarely been investigated. Here, whether pig (Sus scrofa domesticus) closed-mouth grunts differ in source- and filter-related features when produced in situations assumed to be positive and negative is investigated. Behavioral and physiological parameters were used to validate the animals' emotional state (both in terms of valence and arousal, i.e., bodily activation). Results revealed that grunts produced in a positive situation were characterized by higher formants, a narrower range of the third formant, a shorter duration, a lower fundamental frequency, and a lower harmonicity compared to negative grunts. Particularly, formant-related parameters and duration made up most of the difference between positive and negative grunts. Therefore, these parameters have the potential to encode dynamic information and to vary as a function of the emotional valence of the emitter in pigs, and possibly in other mammals as well.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2895
JournalThe Journal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2019
Externally publishedYes

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