In the domestic dog project, we are interested in investigating whether dog vocalisations have the potential to transmit information about the caller. In the context of the dog's unique co-evolutionary history with humans, we are looking at both intra- and interspecific interactions:
Size communication
To understand perception and attribution of size information in growls, we resynthesise growl formant frequencies in order to simulate larger or smaller dogs (keeping the growl acoustically identical for all dimensions other than the formant frequencies) and use these in playback designs. We are interested in seeing how well humans, other dogs and prey species (e.g. sheep) attend to formants and whether they appear to categorise attribute size information on the basis of formants.
Having confirmed the correlation between formant dispersion and dog body size, we have shown that humans are able to use formants to accurately judge the size of domestic dogs. We have also found that humans pay attention to the fundamental frequency of growls when making size assessments; however their reliance on fundamental frequency is only minor compared to their reliance on formants. This research is published in: Taylor, A.M., Reby, D., McComb, K. (2008). Human listeners attend to size information in domestic dog growls, Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 123, 2903-2909.pdf
Context information
We are interested in identifying acoustic dimensions that encode context information in a predictable manner. "context" is used here as any variable that identifies the situation in which a growl is emitted.
Anna Taylor (Dphil)
David Reby (Main Supervisor)
Karen McComb (Supervisor)
Visit the dog project webpage at:
This work is also reported / discussed here:
School of Psychology