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So, Edvard Munch, is it pain, anger, fear, pleasure, sadness or joy? Photo: Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Human screams can signal more than just fear — and we're actually more alert to positive screams than alarming ones, researchers have found.

Why it matters: The fact that a simple scream can connote such a variety of emotions shows the complexity of nonverbal human communication and may indicate we're more alert to joy than terror.

How it works: In a study published this week, researchers asked 12 subjects to vocalize positive and negative screams, while another group rated the emotional nature of the screams.

  • The second group also had their brains scanned with functional magnetic resonance imaging machines (fMRI) while listening.

Details: The researchers identified six "psycho-acoustically" distinct screams: pain, anger, fear, pleasure, sadness and joy.

  • The listening group responded more quickly to the positive screams, which provoked more activity across frontal and auditory brain regions as indicated in the fMRI scans.

Of note: The emotional diversity of human screams is unusual — other primates and mammalian species scream but almost exclusively as an alarm signal, like when vervet monkeys scream to warn others of a threat.

The bottom line: As someone who was a high school senior in 1997, I recognize one Scream and one Scream only.

Go deeper

4 hours ago - Technology

Facebook changes corporate name to Meta

Screen shot of CEO Mark Zuckerberg at the company's "Connect" virtual event

CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday said the social media giant is renaming its company Meta.

Why it matters: The effort is meant to shift its image from a social media platform to a “metaverse” company that focuses on building virtual work and social communities.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
4 hours ago - Economy & Business

Filings show Sweetgreen isn't profitable, despite claims

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Restaurant chain Sweetgreen on Monday filed to go public, and revealed that it lost money in each year since 2014.

Why it matters: The company lied when it repeatedly told reporters it was profitable.

U.S. border cities again see low violent crime rates

Expand chart
Data: FBI, Kansas Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

Reported violent crime in the United States rose in 2020 for the first time in four years, but violent crime rates in 11 of the largest communities along the U.S.-Mexico border stayed below the national average, an Axios analysis found. 

Why it matters: Year after year, data showing low violent crime rates in majority-Mexican American and Mexican immigrant border communities dispels myths of the U.S.-Mexico border as a region filled with crime and chaos.