Third International Workshop on Models and Analysis of Vocal Emissions for Biomedical Applications (MAVEBA 2003)

Florence, Italy
December 10-12, 2003

Resonance Development and Formant Tuning Phenomena in Infant's Crying

Claudia Manfredi (1), Werner Mende (2), Piero Bruscaglioni (3), Kathleen Wermke (4)

(1) Dept. of Electronics and Telecommunications, Faculty of Engineering, University of Firenze, Italy
(2) Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Science, Berlin, Germany
(3) Dept. of Physics, Faculty of Mathematics, Physics and Nat. Science, University of Firenze, Italy
(4) Center for pre-speech development & developmental disorders, Department of Orthodontics, Julius-Maximilians-University Würzburg, Germany

The tracking of resonance frequencies and the analysis of their interaction with the fundamental frequency (F0) allows a description of (pre-) articulatory activity in very young infants. Subjects are six healthy infants. Spontaneous cries were recorded weekly from the 4th until the 20th week. For resonance frequency estimation a spectral parametric technique was applied, which was based on autoregressive models whose order is adaptively estimated on subsequent signal frames. Cry melodies exhibiting different degrees of complexity (e.g. single-arc-melodies, multiple-arc-melodies) were selected for analysis. We found that resonance (formant) tuning occurs much earlier than expected. Here we demonstrate the early occurrence of a tuning between resonance frequencies and the cry melody in infants from 8 weeks onward. A more intense tuning between the melody and the lower resonance frequencies was found beginning about the 2nd / 3rd month. This tuning is interpreted as an early articulatory activity in infant's crying. In a broader perspective it is attributed to a language-related behaviour preparing formant tuning in speech. Medical applications are seen for infants with disturbances of the vocal tract transfer function, e.g. infants with cleft-lip-palate.

Index Terms. cry melody, vocal tract resonance, formant analysis, pre-speech development

Full Paper (reprinted with permission from Firenze University Press)

Bibliographic reference.  Manfredi, Claudia / Mende, Werner / Bruscaglioni, Piero / Wermke, Kathleen (2003): "Resonance development and formant tuning phenomena in infant's crying", In MAVEBA-2003, 35-38.