Ever wondered why the sound of your bubs giggling is both inimitable and irresistibly cute? It’s because he doesn’t sound anything like you when you laugh—in fact, he couldn’t even if he tried.
According to new research presented at the Acoustical Society of America, a baby’s laugh has more in common with a non-human primate than his own parents.
Adult humans exhale while laughing, whereas chimps, and baby humans, inhale, making that cartoony “hyuck” sound.
“Adult humans sometimes laugh on the inhale but the proportion is markedly different from that of infants’ and chimps’ laughs,” explains study coauthor Disa Sauter. “Our results so far suggest that this is a gradual, rather than a sudden, shift.”
The suggested reason for this difference is developmental—little ones don’t have the vocal control. Sauter and colleagues hope to apply their interesting findings to the realm of diagnosing developmental disorders—laughter is both a major component in parent-child bonding, and also a key way paediatricians check cognitive growth. “Beyond that, I’d be interested in seeing whether our findings apply to other vocalizations than laughter,” says Sauter.
To get your tot chuckling, check out these fun baby games to play together.