Psychoacoustic abilities as predictors of vocal emotion recognition

Eitan Globerson, Noam Amir, Ofer Golan, Liat Kishon-Rabin, Michal Lavidor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Prosodic attributes of speech, such as intonation, influence our ability to recognize, comprehend, and produce affect, as well as semantic and pragmatic meaning, in vocal utterances. The present study examines associations between auditory perceptual abilities and the perception of prosody, both pragmatic and affective. This association has not been previously examined. Ninety-seven participants (49 female and 48 male participants) with normal hearing thresholds took part in two experiments, involving both prosody recognition and psychoacoustic tasks. The prosody recognition tasks included a vocal emotion recognition task and a focus perception task requiring recognition of an accented word in a spoken sentence. The psychoacoustic tasks included a task requiring pitch discrimination and three tasks also requiring pitch direction (i.e., high/low, rising/falling, changing/steady pitch). Results demonstrate that psychoacoustic thresholds can predict 31% and 38% of affective and pragmatic prosody recognition scores, respectively. Psychoacoustic tasks requiring pitch direction recognition were the only significant predictors of prosody recognition scores. These findings contribute to a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying prosody recognition and may have an impact on the assessment and rehabilitation of individuals suffering from deficient prosodic perception.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1799-1810
Number of pages12
JournalAttention, Perception, and Psychophysics
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the NARSAD independent investigator award and by grant no. 474/06 from the Israel Science Foundation awarded to M. Lavidor. We are indebted to all participants in the tests for devoting their time and effort to this study. Special thanks to Dr. Michal Ben Shachar for her help and support and to Adi Hoyben and Atal Harush for their assistance in performing the second experiment.


  • Audition
  • Music cognition
  • Psychoacoustics
  • Sound recognition


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