Auditory Perception of Biological Movements: an evidence of cognitive specifities from sound synthesis


  • Thoret Etienne
  • Aramaki Mitsuko
  • Kronland-Martinet Richard
  • Velay Jean-Luc
  • Ystad Sølvi

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In this study, we investigated whether friction sounds produced by drawing movements enabled to recognize the dynamic and geometric characteristics of biological movements. In a first experiment, friction sounds were real-time synthesized and modulated by the velocity profile of the drawing gesture. They revealed that subjects associated a biological movement to those sounds whose timbre variations were generated by velocity profiles complying with the 1/3 power law. This result demonstrates that biological movements were recognizable through the auditory channel. To go further, two other experiments investigated whether such sounds can adequately informed on the underlying drawn shape. Two association tasks were made with recorded and synthesized friction sounds. They highlighted that geometric shapes are discriminable by sounds when they are enough different thanks to the human kinematics evoked through timbre variations. These three experiments provide a new original evidence of the specific treatment of biological motion kinematics through a sensory channel never used for this purpose before.[1] Thoret, E., Aramaki, M., Kronland-Martinet, R., Velay, J. L., and Ystad, S. (2014). From Sound to Shape: Auditory Perception of Drawing Movements, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 40(3), 983-994

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