IFMA Preventive Health Management Inc.

Institute for Medical Advancement

New York, USA

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Affective State and Voice

Everyday experience shows that human speech is greatly influenced by the affective state of the speaker. In fact, during a conversation we can discover a lot about the physical and mental disposition of our dialog partners without having to talk about it: for example, anger, fatigue, joy, love, sadness, stress, happiness, fear, lack of energy, or drowsiness.

Speaking Behavior

Speech characteristics can be roughly described by a few major features: speech flow, loudness, intonation and intensity of overtones. Speech flow describes the speed at which utterances are produced as well as the number and duration of temporary breaks in speaking. Loudness reflects the amount of energy associated with the articulation of utterances and, when regarded as a time-varying quantity, the speaker's dynamic expressiveness.

Voice Sound Characteristics

Intonation is the manner of producing utterances with respect to rise and fall in pitch, and leads to tonal shifts in either direction of the speaker's mean vocal pitch. Overtones are the higher tones which faintly accompany a fundamental tone, thus being responsible for the tonal diversity of sounds.

«Depressive-Voice» App: Biofeedback

Based on the above normative data the «Institute for Response-Genetics (IFRG)», University of Zurich (Switzerland), has developed an easy-to-use, self-assessment voice analysis system for Laptops, Tablets, Smartphones, and iPhones. In the sense of biofeedback, this system ("Depressive-Voice App") provides directly interpretable results when (1) monitoring general health and well-being; (2) monitoring the effects of chronic stress; (3) learning to better cope with chronic stress; and (4) monitoring the risk of depression and doing something about it where necessary [see our scientific article].

Spectrum of a typical male person uttering vowel «a»
Spectrum of a typical male person uttering vowel «a». The intensity of intrinsic tones is plotted along the vertical axis for the frequency range of 55-7040 Hz (7 octaves). As to the overtones: F1 is the octave above the fundamental tone F0; F2 the fifth above F1; and F3 the fourth above F2.

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