As we all know, there are hundreds of downloadable mobile apps available that could alter the sound of your voice and transform it in a strange way.

You could speak to a talking cat or a talking Santa, and they would both repeat your words in a peculiar fashion. Kids and kids-at-heart find it amusing to listen to funny voices.

Research has shown that the sound of people's voices is a link to how they manage and control their emotions. They might do it by holding back an expression or reappraising their feelings.

Now, scientists have developed a digital audio platform that can change the emotional tone of people's voices while they're talking, making them sound sadder, happier or even more anxious. This software could prove to be beneficial, experts said.

The Relationship Between The Expression And Experience Of Emotions

In a new study featured in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team of audio engineers asked a large group of participants to read a short story by Haruki Murakami.

The researchers altered the sound of the participants' voices while they were reading. The participants could hear their own modified voice through a headset, but only 16 out of 109 participants detected the change in their voice.

As the participants heard their modified voice, researchers noticed that their emotional state changed, reflecting the emotion in the altered voice.

This meant that people do not always control their own voice to meet a specific goal, and that people do pay attention to their own voice to learn how they are feeling.

Petter Johansson of Lund University in Sweden, one of the study's researchers, said the link between the expression of emotions and the experience of it is a topic of disagreement in psychology.

"This is the first evidence of direct feedback effects on emotional experience in the auditory domain," said Johansson.

Jean-Julien Aucouturier, the lead author of the study and an expert from the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), said there are a few studies on the mechanisms behind the production of vocal emotion.

"We wanted to investigate what kind of awareness people have of their own emotional expressions," he said.

How The Sounds Were Modified

The research team created algorithms that could manipulate the components of a person's voice.

For instance, the algorithm for the happy manipulation changes the pitch of the speaker's voice by inflection to make it sound more confident. It also changes its spectral content or timbre through a technique called high-pass filtering to make it sound more excited.

Benefits To Mental Health

Scientists believe that manipulation of the emotions expressed through sound could help treat mental illnesses such as depression.

Study co-author Katsumi Watanabe considers using the platform for therapeutic purposes by inducing positive attitude change from retelling memories or by re-describing emotional events in an altered tone of voice.

Researchers also say the platform can enhance the impact of live singing or Karaoke performances, or perhaps change the atmosphere of conversations in online gaming or online meetings.

"We are making a version of the voice manipulation platform available as open-source on our website, and we invite anyone to download and experiment with the tools," said Aucouturier.

Other Ways To Improve Your Mood

If you want to test out the team's findings for yourself and see if it could improve people's moods, you can try the digital audio platform on the researchers' website.

Aside from that, there are several other quick and handy ways to help you improve your mood.

1. Use one, two or all of these 12 mobile apps to relieve your anxiety. You could listen to relaxing and tranquil sounds before you fall asleep or while studying. You could also pay it forward by doing acts of kindness suggested by the Pay It Forward app.

2. Turn up the music and dance like nobody's watching. Studies have shown that listening to music can help lower your blood pressure, boost your mood and reduce stress. The right kind of music has the power to change how you feel. You can also listen to music while you're working out to help you feel the thrill.

3. Sniff a scent. Experts say smelling the scent of lemon can turn down the "fight-or-flight" stress response in a person because of the substance linalool. Other fragrant plants that contain linalool are lavender, mango, and basil.

4. Clear your desk and make your bed. A cluttered environment can make you lose focus and become unproductive. Cleaning your outer environment can help you feel more organized and you can concentrate on what you need to do. If you make your bed as soon as you wake up, it's a bonus point in your to-do list, and it's also an energy boost.

Photo : Vladimir Pustovit | Flickr

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