We are a little bit early for Halloween but I thought I would share these with you. The spooky consequences of slowing down or shifting the pitch of babies laughter and tears until they sound a bit like adults. The results are unsettling to say the least.
First off a friend found a pitch adjusted version of a baby crying. You can listen to it here but be warned it is very weird and affecting. Almost as if the anguish of infancy has been enlarged to become the existential lament of a full grown adult. (You have been warned!)
Naturally, this had me wondering what slowed down baby laughter would sound like. The same friend obliged by making this sound file of a slowly laughing baby. Worringly, it sounds a bit like sobbing too. Which is interesting in itself since laughter and tears are the first communicative sounds that babies can make. However, when slowed down a little less baby laughter sounds surprisingly normal.
Professor Sophie Scott from University College London has been studying the biomechanics of laughter and what happens in the brain when we hear people laughing. She gave a great talk about this at the recent TEDx Imperial College.