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The ability of dogs to understand is greater than we imagined!


The ability of dogs to understand is greater than we imagined!

Brain scans of our canine friends show that they are able to associate words with tone of voice to process meaning.

sat down! Stop! Move! Obedient boy! Many of us use these words with our closest animal friends every day, and a recent new study suggests that dogs may actually be able to understand a fair part of what we say, and even pay special attention to how we say it.

The findings, published in the journal Science, may prove what dog lovers have been believing: that their best friends can process language differently than they have long believed. “We think that words are something for humans, but in reality dogs can process word meanings and the tone of speech in a way that is very similar to what humans do,” says lead author of the study Ateleh Andiks, a neuroscientist at Eutvos Lorand University in Budapest.

Scientists have long believed that the human ability to form words - the building blocks of language - arose as a distinct brain mechanism to support the ability to communicate. Andyx explains that words are arbitrary sounds to which humans assign meanings. In general, this ability does not manifest itself in other animals, and Andycks notes that although dogs cannot pronounce words, they seem to be able to understand a wide range of them; Dogs sit, pick up what is thrown at them, shake hands and cuddle, in response to the caresses of their human owners every day.

To test the words dogs can recognize, Andyx and his team recruited thirteen dogs of different breeds, from Border Collie to Golden Retrievers. They trained the dogs to lie still in an fMRI machine for seven minutes, then played a recording of the dog trainer, and while the dogs listened to the recording, the scientists measured their brain activity.

The research team tested different combinations of words and phonemes. For example, one of the recordings contains encouraging phrases such as "Well done!" In a high pitched, encouraging tone, in another recording, the coach may repeat the same phrase but in a neutral tone, or say random, incomprehensible sentences consisting of only linking words such as “if” and “whatever.”

The researchers reported that the results of the survey indicated that dogs - like humans - use different areas of the brain to process different parts of speech, as they use the left hemisphere to analyze the meanings of words, and the right hemisphere to analyze the tone of voice. It also seemed that the dogs participating in the experiment were able to put these two pieces of information together; When positive words match a positive tone of voice, the reward centers and dopamine release are activated in their brains. However, when positive words were combined with neutral tones of voice, reward circuits were less active. On the other hand, when non-meaningful words were spoken in a positive tone, the dogs' reward circuits did not respond at all. “Dogs are very smart, so complimenting them with the right tone of voice equals the effect of other rewards such as food, and patting their back in approval.”

These findings add to previous studies showing that dogs can process nonverbal cues such as tone of voice, says Victoria Ratcliffe, an animal behavior researcher at the University of Sussex who was not involved in this study. In research conducted by Ratcliffe she found that dogs can distinguish between male and female voices, and can even distinguish the tone of voice in a sentence in a foreign language. "This new study proves that dogs can pick up more information than we thought," says Ratcliffe.

And although we don't know exactly what dogs' brains interpret when they hear words of praise, these findings suggest that the words have some kind of representation and meaning in their brains, Ratcliffe adds. It is also possible that other animals use the same areas of the brain to process language. Studying animals that display similar hemispheric biases toward their vocalizations - such as primates, sea lions and horses - could reveal important clues about how old language processing mechanisms are, said Ratcliffe. common to all mammals.