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Re: sex differences in perception of environmental sounds

Hello Guillaume et al.,

All our sounds were "sound of objects", so we had nothing like baby crying. And, in my opinion, environmental sounds do not include human vocalizations. Personally, I always use Vanderveer's definition [2]: "... any possible audible acoustic event which is caused by motions in the ordinary human environment. (...) Besides 1) having real events as their sources (...) 2) [they] are usually more ``complex'' than laboratory sinusoids, (...) 3) [they] are meaningful, in the sense that they specify events in the environment. (...) 4) The sounds to be considered are not part of a communication system, or communication sounds, they are taken in their literal rather than signal or symbolic interpretation."

In my personal opinion we shouldn't use such a restrictive definition of environmental sounds. Your definition (and that of Vanderveer) corresponds approximately to the category of nonliving environmental sounds.

Research on environmental sounds is a precious opportunity to finally direct the attention of the research community towards the complexity of the everyday acoustical environment. If we constraint the definition of environmental sounds we constrain the research field and miss this opportunity.

For the comparative weight of symbolic and sensory(acoustical) information in the cognitive processing of different categories of environmental sounds see Giordano et al. (2010): with baby cries symbolic information seems to be more relevant than with "hammering nail" (surprise surprise). Again, in my opinion and I assume in that of several other researchers in this field, baby cries are nonetheless environmental sounds.


  author = {B. L. Giordano and J. McDonnell and S. McAdams},
title = {Hearing living symbols and nonliving icons: category-specificities in the cognitive processing of environmental sounds},
  journal = {Brain \& Cognition},
  year = {2010},
  volume = {73},
  pages = {7-19}

Bruno L. Giordano, PhD
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
CIRMMT – Schulich School of Music
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