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Voice Change!

Well, it seems rather obvious that one does not have to be didactic in teaching others to make it realise. Human brain can easily identify who is the near and dear one, and who is not! On the basis of that, the brain also adjusts the tone of our voices! And, we don’t even know that mechanism. Dr Bhismadev Chakrabarti, a Professor at Reading University’s Centre for Integrative Neuroscience and Neurodynamics and a Senior Scientist at the Cambridge University Autism Research Centre, recently revealed this fact after conducting researches in three countries. The joint research, conducted by Dr Chakrabarti and Professor Nandini Sinha Chattopadhyaya of the New Delhi-based National Brain Research Centre, has been published in the journal ‘Frontiers in Psychiatry‘.
According to Dr Chakrabarti and Professor Chattopadhyaya, one does not have to tell the brain who is the known person, and who is not. Human brain has the ability to identify people. After the identification process, the brain would proceed to change the pitch and tone of the voice. And, human beings don’t even realise this sensational Philosophy of brain! The Human brain does this in the same manner, irrespective of language, nationality, culture and race… The brain follows its own routine everywhere in this world. As a result, one can easily understand whether two persons know each other simply by noticing conversational exchanges between them!
Dr Chakrabarti told the local media in London that they had conducted the research on 160 women and men, aged between 18 to 30, from Britain, India and Italy. First, the researchers selected a woman and a man to make a pair or dyad. While selecting the pair, they verified whether one had known the other… even if they knew one another, then for how long and how deeply? Later, the researchers made attempts to get pieces of information about one another from both of them. However, they did not disclose information received from one to the other. “We got some really interesting information. One thought that the other was familiar to her/him and remembered the person. However, the second one failed to remember the first one and told us they s/he had no information about the first one,” stressed Dr Chakrabarti.

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Dr Chakrabarti

As sexual attraction is natural between women and men, the researchers selected all men pair or all women pair. Dr Chakrabarti explained that they had tried to avoid the possibility of varying tone of the voice due to normal sexual attraction. The researchers also avoided Under-18 men, as their voices changed during the adolescent period. For the same reason, they did not conduct research on women who attained menopause. “We recorded the conversations between two members of pair for two-three to six minutes.” said Dr Chakrabarti.
Commenting on the topics of discussion between two persons (or a pair), Dr Chakrabarti said: “We gave two paintings of Picasso to them and asked one to tell the other about the painting. We also asked the second person to do the same.” It was seen that those, who were completely unknown to one another, explained Picasso’s works in a monotonous voice. There was no variation of frequency in their voices even during general conversations. On the contrary, the variations of tone, pitch and voice were clearly noticed during the conversations between two known persons. According to the researchers, the way variation is measured is called Articulation Space Mapping in the terminology of Neuroscience. The Articulation Space captures the vibration of the tone of human voice. The Articulation Space, created by interactions between two known persons, is quite wide. While the space, created by conversations between two completely unknown persons, is narrow.

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The researchers have further claimed that all of us have some autistic traits! While some have less, others have more. Those, having the characteristic (autism) very high, need to get diagnosed. This condition is called autistic abilities or autistic traits. Dr Chakrabarti stated that people with a higher number of autistic traits, have a monotonous voice. These voices, usually, have no variation of frequency. They talk to both known and unknown people in the same tone!
Meanwhile, Dr Chakrabarti has admitted that they are yet to conduct the research on the population that communicates in Tonal Languages or Rhythmic Languages. “We concentrated mainly on non-tonal languages,” he insisted. Dr Chakrabarti added: “It is expected that will be more in case of tonal languages. For example, the languages of some tribes. In case of some Ancient languages, users follow a particular rhythm! Therefore, variations of the tones were required while speaking in ancient languages.

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Professor Chattopadhyaya

For her part, Professor Chattopadhyaya has said that the researchers would have to concentrate on three major aspects. Firstly, it is important to conduct the research in more countries, as it will help researchers find the variations of tone during the conversations between two persons from different cultural or linguistic backgrounds. Moreover, the tonal languages should be included in the process. Secondly, researchers would have to find how the autistic people interact with the society and adapt the culture. Thirdly, homosexuals or bisexuals should also be included in the research programme in the coming years.
The experts have showered praises on Dr Chakrabarti and Professor Chattopadhyaya for shedding light on the mechanisms of how the brain works, saying that the latest research would explore new avenues for potential studies, thus, helping autistic children successfully communicate with others in the future…

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