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. This was to determine which parts of the brain they were using.
 
They found that dogs processed words with the left hemisphere of their brain.  Meanwhile, pitch was processed with the right hemisphere. That is just like humans.
 
What's more, the dogs only registered that they were being praised if the words and pitch 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. He is a neuroscientist at Eotvos Lorand University. It is 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. That means 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 (343)
  • hlily-dav
    9/06/2016 - 07:14 p.m.

    In response to "Scientists find that dogs understand what you're saying," I agree that dogs can understand what humans are saying to them. One reason I agree with this is the part of their brain that processes words is the same part of the brain used by humans to process human language. Another reason is that, "Praise can work as a reward only if both word meaning and intonation match." This shows that when your tone of voice matches what you're saying, dogs can then understand you. A third reason is for thousands of years dogs have socialized with humans, this has made them more attentive to what people have to say. In other words, over the course of time dogs have developed this ability. Even though many people doubt this ability, and say dogs only listen to your tone of voice, I truly think that dogs understand what people say to them.

  • kelseyk-obr
    9/07/2016 - 01:45 p.m.

    Dogs take an interest in human speech because they need us for a lot of things.

  • kadyk-obr
    9/07/2016 - 01:45 p.m.

    I believe that dogs are interested in human speech because they what to know what's going on like if they are getting food or water.

  • wrigleyh-sto
    9/08/2016 - 09:43 a.m.

    Dogs have an interest in human speech because the care about what we say and how we say it

    • aaliyahv-hei
      9/21/2016 - 03:32 p.m.

      I agree with you because dogs are loyal to us when we show them affection and some times they want to learn more about what we are doing or saying

  • samr-sto
    9/08/2016 - 09:47 a.m.

    Because if you give it a treat when it listens to you it is like when a kid does something right you give it chocolate it is like giving a dog a treat,if we say it in a way that is exiting or mad tone the will be more interested because if your mad they will want to know why and if your exited they will want to play or want to know if you got them something.

  • maecyr-sto
    9/08/2016 - 10:00 a.m.

    because dogs can tell the tone of humans voices whether they will be punished or rewarded.

  • giavannac-orv
    9/08/2016 - 04:19 p.m.

    Probably because they want to know what their owner is saying to them. Just like we want to know what other people are saying to us.

    • sophiaa1-van
      9/19/2016 - 10:36 a.m.

      I love this story cause I love dogs and it gives me more facts

  • jlilly-dav
    9/08/2016 - 06:14 p.m.

    in response to "scientists find that dogs understand what we're saying." I agree that dogs understand what we are saying because their brain works just like the human brain just not with The "neural capacities to process words that were thought by many to be uniquely human are actually shared with other species," Another reason is that "dogs have socialized wit humans for years" and they have there way to say something back with motion or some type of movement. A third reason is that dogs understand us the way us humans talk to them. Even though they might know what we are saying there still is a chance they are just going along with how we move or where we go and just listen to us by days of training.

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