Seven and up: individual differences in male voice fundamental frequency emerge before puberty and remain stable throughout adulthood

Fouquet, Meddy, Pisanski, Katarzyna, Mathevon, Nicolas and Reby, David (2016) Seven and up: individual differences in male voice fundamental frequency emerge before puberty and remain stable throughout adulthood. Royal Society Open Science, 3 (10). p. 160395. ISSN 2054-5703

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Abstract

Voice pitch (the perceptual correlate of fundamental frequency, F0) varies considerably even among individuals of the same sex and age, communicating a host of socially and evolutionarily relevant information. However, due to the almost exclusive utilization of cross-sectional designs in previous studies, it remains unknown whether these individual differences in voice pitch emerge before, during or after sexual maturation, and whether voice pitch remains stable into adulthood. Here, we measured the F0 parameters of men who were recorded once every 7 years from age 7 to 56 as they participated in the British television documentary Up Series. Linear mixed models revealed significant effects of age on all F0 parameters, wherein F0 mean, minimum, maximum and the standard deviation of F0 showed sharp pubertal decreases between age 7 and 21, yet remained remarkably stable after age 28. Critically, men's pre-pubertal F0 at age 7 strongly predicted their F0 at every subsequent adult age, explaining up to 64% of the variance in post-pubertal F0. This finding suggests that between-individual differences in voice pitch that are known to play an important role in men's reproductive success are in fact largely determined by age 7, and may therefore be linked to prenatal and/or pre-pubertal androgen exposure.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: voice pitch, fundamental frequency, longitudinal study, non-verbal communication, pubertal, testosterone,
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion
Depositing User: Lene Hyltoft
Date Deposited: 13 Sep 2016 13:52
Last Modified: 14 Jul 2017 11:10
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/63279

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