Of hissing snakes and angry voices: human infants are differentially responsive to evolutionary fear-relevant sounds

Erlich, Nicole, Lipp, Ottmar V. and Slaughter, Virginia (2013) Of hissing snakes and angry voices: human infants are differentially responsive to evolutionary fear-relevant sounds. Developmental Science, 16 6: 894-904. doi:10.1111/desc.12091


Author Erlich, Nicole
Lipp, Ottmar V.
Slaughter, Virginia
Title Of hissing snakes and angry voices: human infants are differentially responsive to evolutionary fear-relevant sounds
Journal name Developmental Science   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1363-755X
1467-7687
Publication date 2013-11-01
Year available 2013
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/desc.12091
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 16
Issue 6
Start page 894
End page 904
Total pages 11
Place of publication Oxford, United Kingdom
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Adult humans demonstrate differential processing of stimuli that were recurrent threats to safety and survival throughout evolutionary history. Recent studies suggest that differential processing of evolutionarily ancient threats occurs in human infants, leading to the proposal of an inborn mechanism for rapid identification of, and response to, evolutionary fear-relevant stimuli. The current study provides novel data in support of this proposal, showing for the first time that human infants differentially process evolutionary threats presented in the auditory modality. Sixty-one 9-month-olds listened to evolutionary fear-relevant, modern fear-relevant, and pleasant sounds, while their heart rate, startle, and visual orienting behaviours were measured. Infants demonstrated significantly enhanced heart rate deceleration, larger eye-blinks, and more visual orienting when listening to evolutionary fear-relevant sounds compared to sounds from the other two categories. These results support the proposal that human infants possess evolved mechanisms for the differential processing of a range of ancient environmental threats. Adult humans demonstrate differential processing of stimuli that were recurrent threats to safety and survival throughout evolutionary history. Recent studies suggest that differential processing of evolutionarily ancient threats occurs in human infants, leading to the proposal of an inborn mechanism for rapid identification of, and response to, evolutionary fear-relevant stimuli. The current study provides novel data in support of this proposal, showing for the first time that human infants differentially process evolutionary threats presented in the auditory modality.
Keyword Auditory Visual Compounds
Electrodermal Responses
Conditioned-Stimuli
Facial Expressions
Sensory Dominance
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2014 Collection
School of Psychology Publications
 
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