Scientists find that dogs understand what you're saying In this undated photo provided by the MR Research Center some trained dogs are involved in a study to investigate how dog brains process speech sit around a scanner in Budapest, Hungary. (Borbala Ferenczy/MR Research Center via AP/AP Photo)
Scientists find that dogs understand what you're saying
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Scientists have found evidence to support what many dog owners have long believed: man's best friend really does understand some of what we're saying.
 
Researchers in Hungary scanned the brains of dogs as they were listening to their trainer speaking to determine which parts of the brain they were using.
 
They found that dogs processed words with the left hemisphere, while intonation was processed with the right hemisphere - just like humans.
 
What's more, the dogs only registered that they were being praised if the words and intonation were positive. Meaningless words spoken in an encouraging voice, or meaningful words in a neutral tone, didn't have the same effect.
 
"Dog brains care about both what we say and how we say it," said lead researcher Attila Andics, a neuroscientist at Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest. "Praise can work as a reward only if both word meaning and intonation match."
 
Andics said the findings suggest that the mental ability to process language evolved earlier than previously believed and that what sets humans apart from other species is the invention of words.
 
"The neural capacities to process words that were thought by many to be uniquely human are actually shared with other species," he said. "This suggests that the big change that made humans able to start using words was not a big change in neural capacity."
 
While other species probably also have the mental ability to understand language like dogs do, their lack of interest in human speech makes it difficult to test, said Andics.
 
Dogs, on the other hand, have socialized with humans for thousands of years, meaning they are more attentive to what people say to them and how.
 
The study was published in the journal Science.
 
Andics also noted that all of the dogs were awake, unrestrained and happy during the tests.
 
"They participated voluntarily," he said.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why do dogs have an interest in human speech?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (96)
  • irisp-ste
    9/06/2016 - 11:27 a.m.

    Since almost all dogs are domesticated and owned by people, they may naturally start to care about the noises from their owners as they spend more time with them from puppies to adulthood. Like mentioned in article, my dog only seems to care about or recognize what I am saying when the words involve him. If I say to Toby, my pet, that he needs to go outside or check his dish, he'll automatically comprehend what I have said to him. Dogs may become interested in what humans or their owners say because like people, they want to know what someone is saying if it involves them.

  • emmab-cel
    9/07/2016 - 09:54 a.m.

    I love dogs. To hear that dogs can understand what we are saying is amazing because we never really for sure until now! This is a huge step in science and learning about how they communicate with us and we communicate with them.

  • peytonw-cel
    9/07/2016 - 09:59 a.m.

    Because they understand what humans are saying. Dogs have always communicated with humans. Dogs think they are being praised depending on the tone so this is a cause of interest. Dogs brain works very similar to a humans brain. Dogs do understand humans.

  • peytonw-cel
    9/07/2016 - 10:18 a.m.

    Dogs are interested in human speech because normally the humans are their owners. After a while the dogs get costumed to the different tones of their owner's voice and can pick up on what they say and mean. They are interested in it because they love their owners and try to communicate with them in a different way.

  • johannaw-cel
    9/07/2016 - 10:23 a.m.

    Dogs are known as the best friends of humans and after this article I agree with that more and more.
    Dogs can understand that we praise them, when the words and how we it say, is positive. In my opinion that is really awesome and I think they aren't so much other animals, that can understand us as good as dogs. That makes the connection between human and dogs much closer and that's probably the reason, why the most people have dogs.
    Some people says, that dogs know also when we are sad or happy and after this article I can believe this too.
    I think it's also very fascinating that scientist could find out so much about the dog's brain.

  • annakatep-cel
    9/07/2016 - 11:23 a.m.

    dogs have an interest in human speech because they love there owners and enjoy being around them. they listen to their owner praising them and get excited. they feel rewarded when humans talk to them in nice tones.

  • monicas-ste
    9/08/2016 - 01:17 p.m.

    This is so cool. Dogs are so smart. It's amazing how much they understand.

  • jacklynt-ste
    9/08/2016 - 01:22 p.m.

    A dog's brain is like a human brain as in the left and right side work the same. Dogs process the information by the way we say as in a praised voice or a meaningful tone. Researchers say that it is easier to test dogs' brains than other animals because dogs are more used to and adapted to humans.

  • mariannae1-hei
    9/08/2016 - 02:56 p.m.

    A dogs brain works like a human brain, their right and left hemisphere works like human brains. Dogs process the information by"what we say and how we say it" said the researcher Attila Andics.

  • jareds-cel
    9/09/2016 - 10:03 a.m.

    Dogs have an interest in human speech for many reasons. One of the reasons are that they respect and love their and over time they pick up on the tone of their voice and the mood they are in. Also scientists believe that dogs can communicate to their owners by communicating in their own way which involves the movements they make. Over periods of time dogs and owners do have a specific way of communicating just by being so familiar with each other.

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