Scientists have recently proven that not only can dogs understand our tone, they can even understand the words we’re saying. But dog owners have known that for ages!
Of course, your pup understands when you’re happy with him, and he knows how to respond when you’ve had a long, stressful day.
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- # These Hungarian dogs’ brain activity was scanned to determine that they can process words’ meaning and the emotion used to speak them.
- # The dogs in the fMRI scans can pull out their heads at any time.
- # Two dogs lie very still and listen to the trainer
- # A golden retriever interacts with researcher
- # How dog brains process speech
# These Hungarian dogs’ brain activity was scanned to determine that they can process words’ meaning and the emotion used to speak them.
Although this has been mere speculation until now, Hungarian scientists have successfully proven this claim. They published a groundbreaking report stating that dogs can understand human words and the tone used to speak with them. The study showed that dogs process language the same way humans do.
# The dogs in the fMRI scans can pull out their heads at any time.
To prove the claims, Attila Andics, Ph.D. on Comparative Ethology and his colleagues at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest gathered a group of 13 dogs. These dogs were mostly Border Collies and Golden Retrievers. And they were trained to sit still in an MRI for seven minutes and had their brain scanned. The dogs were not restrained.
# Two dogs lie very still and listen to the trainer
The female trainer then praised the dogs with phrases such as ‘clever dog’ and ‘good boy’ or ‘that’s it’. They were said in both happy, complimenting tone and a neutral tone. The brain scans showed that the dogs processed the words, with or without the use of intonation, with their left hemisphere similar to humans. The words with emotion were processed in the auditory regions of the right hemisphere, again, just like humans.
# A golden retriever interacts with researcher
Co-author of the study Tamás Faragó stated that the reaction to the left hemisphere didn’t prove they were comprehending the meaning. But not reacting to familiarity. But it’s safe to assume that dogs hear neutral words as often as they hear praise words in daily human conversation.
“The main difference will be not familiarity, but whether the word is addressed to the dog or not,” he added. The research also successfully proved that dogs’ ‘reward center’ in the brain for petting, food, and sex, react similarly when positive words are spoken to them.
# How dog brains process speech
Video Source: FamilyDogProject
Unfortunately, no definite answers could be derived for cats. According to Faragó, cats were domesticated much later than dogs. But he is sure that other domestic animals might understand words and tone.