Thursday, January 28, 2010

Prosody and empathy

Prosody refers to the intonation - the up and down quality - of people's speech and is distinct from, though usually related to, speech's content. Researchers from the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology looked into prosody by playing and getting people to speak, nonsense phrases with a happy or sad intonation. They found that a part of the brain called Broca's Area became active when the volunteers both heard and produced the different intonations. The participants were also tested on their levels of empathy and it was found that those with the most active Broca's Area were the most empathetic. Interestingly people with Asperger's Syndrome, who tend to lack empathy with others often speak in a monotone.

You can find out more about this research at

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