Parenting Bulletin    
Recent News |  Archives |  Tags |  Newsletter |  Message Board/Forum |  About |  Links |  Subscribe to ParentingBulletin.com RSS Feed Subscribe


More Articles
Improvements in fuel cell designImprovements in fuel cell design

Rediscovering Venus to find faraway earths

Archaeologists discover bronze remains of Iron Age chariot

Researchers resolve the Karakoram glacier anomaly, a cold case of climate science

Fish tale: New study evaluates antibiotic content in farm-raised fishFish tale: New study evaluates antibiotic content in farm-raised fish

New 3-D display technology promises greater energy efficiencyNew 3-D display technology promises greater energy efficiency

Researchers break nano barrier to engineer the first protein microfiberResearchers break nano barrier to engineer the first protein microfiber

Magnetic mirrors enable new technologies by reflecting light in uncanny ways

Structure of an iron-transport protein revealedStructure of an iron-transport protein revealed

First step: From human cells to tissue-engineered esophagusFirst step: From human cells to tissue-engineered esophagus

Lift weights, improve your memory

Spiders: Survival of the fittest group

Autophagy helps fast track stem cell activationAutophagy helps fast track stem cell activation

Myelin vital for learning new practical skillsMyelin vital for learning new practical skills

More physical activity improved school performanceMore physical activity improved school performance

Around the world in 400,000 years: The journey of the red foxAround the world in 400,000 years: The journey of the red fox

Engineering new vehicle powertrainsEngineering new vehicle powertrains

Active aging is much more than exerciseActive aging is much more than exercise

Study: New device can slow, reverse heart failureStudy: New device can slow, reverse heart failure

Are the world's religions ready for ET?Are the world's religions ready for ET?

Gut bacteria, artificial sweeteners and glucose intoleranceGut bacteria, artificial sweeteners and glucose intolerance

Recreating the stripe patterns found in animals by engineering synthetic gene networksRecreating the stripe patterns found in animals by engineering synthetic gene networks

Laying the groundwork for data-driven scienceLaying the groundwork for data-driven science

Nature's designs inspire research into new light-based technologiesNature's designs inspire research into new light-based technologies

Missing piece found to help solve concussion puzzleMissing piece found to help solve concussion puzzle

Biologists delay the aging process by 'remote control'Biologists delay the aging process by 'remote control'

Geography matters: Model predicts how local 'shocks' influence U.S. economyGeography matters: Model predicts how local 'shocks' influence U.S. economy

Identified for the first time what kind of explosive has been used after the detonationIdentified for the first time what kind of explosive has been used after the detonation

Copied from nature: Detecting software errors via genetic algorithmsCopied from nature: Detecting software errors via genetic algorithms

Cry analyzer seeks clues to babies' health (7/22/2013)

Tags:
autism, babies, behavior, birth, children, collaboration, hearing, infants, language, lead, pregnancy, psychiatry, school, students, trauma
Researchers at Brown University and Women & Infants Hospital have developed a new tool that analyzes the cries of babies, searching for clues to potential health or developmental problems. Slight variations in cries, mostly imperceptible to the human ear, can be a 'window into the brain' that could allow for early intervention. -  Mike Cohea / Brown University
Researchers at Brown University and Women & Infants Hospital have developed a new tool that analyzes the cries of babies, searching for clues to potential health or developmental problems. Slight variations in cries, mostly imperceptible to the human ear, can be a 'window into the brain' that could allow for early intervention. - Mike Cohea / Brown University

To parents, a baby's cry is a signal of hunger, pain, or discomfort. But to scientists, subtle acoustic features of a cry, many of them imperceptible to the human ear, can hold important information about a baby's health.

A team of researchers from Brown University and Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island has developed a new computer-based tool to perform finely tuned acoustic analyses of babies' cries. The team hopes their baby cry analyzer will lead to new ways for researchers and clinicians to use cry in identifying children with neurological problems or developmental disorders.

"There are lots of conditions that might manifest in differences in cry acoustics," said Stephen Sheinkopf, assistant professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown, who helped develop the new tool. "For instance, babies with birth trauma or brain injury as a result of complications in pregnancy or birth or babies who are extremely premature can have ongoing medical effects. Cry analysis can be a noninvasive way to get a measurement of these disruptions in the neurobiological and neurobehavioral systems in very young babies."

The new analyzer is the result of a two-year collaboration between faculty in Brown's School of Engineering and hospital-based faculty at Women & Infants Hospital. A paper describing the tool is in press in the Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research.

The system operates in two phases. During the first phase, the analyzer separates recorded cries into 12.5-millisecond frames. Each frame is analyzed for several parameters, including frequency characteristics, voicing, and acoustic volume. The second phase uses data from the first to give a broader view of the cry and reduces the number of parameters to those that are most useful. The frames are put back together and characterized either as an utterance - a single "wah" - or silence, the pause between utterances. Longer utterances are separated from shorter ones and the time between utterances is recorded. Pitch, including the contour of pitch over time, and other variables can then be averaged across each utterance.

In the end, the system evaluates for 80 different parameters, each of which could hold clues about a baby's health.

"It's a comprehensive tool for getting as much important stuff out of a baby cry that we can," said Harvey Silverman, professor of engineering and director of Brown's Laboratory for Engineering Man/Machine Systems.

To understand what important stuff to look for, Silverman and his graduate students Brian Reggiannini and Xiaoxue Li worked closely with Sheinkopf and Barry Lester, director of Brown's Center for the Study of Children at Risk.

"We looked at them as the experts about the kinds of signals we might want to get," Silverman said, "and we engineers were the experts on what we might actually be able to implement and methods to do so. So working together worked quite well."

Lester, who has studied baby cries for years, says this vein of research goes back to the 1960s and a disorder called Cri du chat syndrome.

Cri du chat (cry of the cat) is caused by a genetic anomaly similar to Downs syndrome. Babies who have it have a distinct, high-pitched cry. While the Cri du chat is unmistakable even without sensitive machinery, Lester and others wondered whether subtler differences in cry could also be indicators of a child's health.

"The idea is that cry can be a window into the brain," Lester said.

If neurological deficits change the way babies are able to control their vocal chords, those tiny differences might manifest themselves in differences in pitch and other acoustic features. Lester has published several papers showing that differences in cry are linked to medical problems stemming from malnutrition, prenatal drug exposure, and other risks.

"Cry is an early warning sign that can be used in the context of looking at the whole baby," Lester said.

The tools used in those early studies, however, are primitive by today's standards, Lester said. In early work, recorded cries were converted to spectrograms, visual readouts of pitch changes over time. Research technicians then read and coded each spectrogram by hand. Later systems automated the process somewhat, but the research was still slow and cumbersome.

This new automated analyzer enables researchers to evaluate cries much more quickly and in much greater detail. The Brown team plans to make it available to researchers around the world in the hopes of developing new avenues of cry research.

Sheinkopf, who specializes in developmental disorders, plans to use the tool to look for cry features that might correlate with autism.

"We've known for a long time that older individuals with autism produce sounds or vocalizations that are unusual or atypical," Sheinkopf said. "So vocalizations in babies have been discussed as being useful in developing early identification tools for autism. That's been a major challenge. How do you find signs of autism in infancy?"

The answer could be encoded in a cry.

"Early detection of developmental disorders is critical," Lester added. "It can lead to insights into the causes of these disorders and interventions to prevent or reduce the severity of impairment."

Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by the Brown University

Post Comments:

Search
New Articles
Certain parenting tactics could lead to materialistic attitudes in adulthoodCertain parenting tactics could lead to materialistic attitudes in adulthood

Even expectant dads experience prenatal hormone changes

A 2-minute delay in cutting the umbilical cord leads to a better development of newborns

Study finds low weight gain in pregnant women reduces male fetal survivalStudy finds low weight gain in pregnant women reduces male fetal survival

Prenatal exposure to common household chemicals linked with substantial drop in child IQ

Are you helping your toddler's aggressive behavior?

Punishing kids for lying just doesn't work

Higher birth weight indicates better performance in school

Are the benefits of breast milk stimulant worth the risk?

Many chest X-rays in children are unnecessaryMany chest X-rays in children are unnecessary

Why does physical activity during childhood matter?

Heavier newborns show academic edge in school

Why don't children belong to the clean plate club?Why don't children belong to the clean plate club?

New study examines the effect of timing of folic acid supplementation during pregnancy

Full-day preschool linked with increased school readiness compared with part-day



Archives
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010




Science Friends
Agricultural Science
Astronomy News
Biology News
Biomimicry Science
Cognitive Research
Chemistry News
Tissue Engineering
Cancer Research
Cybernetics Research
Electonics Research
Forensics Report
Fossil News
Genetic Archaeology
Genetics News
Geology News
Nanotech News
Microbiology Research
Physics News
  Archives |  Submit News |  Advertise With Us |  Contact Us |  Links
Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. All contents © 2000 - 2019 ParentingBulletin.com. All rights reserved.