According to a study published on April 13, 2021 in the open access journal PLOS Biology, human screams can point out a lot and are more diverse than previously thought.
Crying can also signal positive emotions
While in primates and other mammalian species, calls are used as alarm signals in negative contexts, humans also use shouting to signal danger. But not only. Humans cry out not only when they are fearful and aggressive, but also when they experience other emotions such as hopelessness and elation.
For this study, the researchers used four experiences psychoacoustic, perceptual, and neuroimaging decision-making in tests conducted with 12 participants. The results revealed six types of screams psychoacoustically distinct, which indicated pain, anger, fear, pleasure, sadness, and joy. Listeners responded faster, more accurately, and with higher neural sensitivity, to non-alarming, positive cries than to alarming cries. Specifically, less alarming screams elicited more activity in many auditory and frontal brain regions. According to the authors, these results show that cries are more diverse in their nature of signaling and communication in humans.
“A major evolutionary step”
“The results of our study are surprising in that researchers generally assume that the cognitive systems of primates and humans are specifically tuned to detect danger and threat signals in the environment as a survival mechanism. this appears to be true for call communication in primates and other animal species, call communication appears to have diversified widely in humans, representing a major evolutionary step“, summarizes Dr. Frühholz.
Before concluding: “Humans share with other species the potential to signal danger by shouting, but it seems only humans shout to also signal positive emotions such as extreme joy and pleasure. (…) This change of priority could be due to the demands of evolved and complex social contexts in humans ”.