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Dogs Can Understand What You Say And How You Say It More Than You Know, Study Reveals

First Posted: Aug 31, 2016 04:26 AM EDT
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Dogs' ability to communicate with humans is old news. But there's more to their intelligence that we need to know about, more than what we already know. Most of us probably believe that our furry friends can only understand intonation; hence it does not matter what we tell them as long as we say the words in a nice way. Apparently, that's wrong! While dogs indeed understand different tones, they likewise know what some particular words mean. Scientists in Hungary have recently recorded this fact.

According to The Huffington Post, Eötvös Loránd University researchers gathered 13 family dogs that live with their pet parents and trained them to lie in an fMRI scanner. This was to analyze what happened in their brains when researchers spoke to them. As a result, they discovered that the dogs' brains process like those of humans.

"During speech processing, there is a well-known distribution of labour in the human brain. It is mainly the left hemisphere's job to process word meaning, and the right hemisphere's job to process intonation. The human brain not only separately analyses what we say and how we say it, but also integrates the two types of information, to arrive at a unified meaning." This was according to Dr. Attila Andics, lead researcher of the study. Surprisingly, their findings showed that dogs do the same and they use similar brain mechanisms.

The Independent reported that during brain scans, researchers spoke praising words like "well done" and "good boy" with a praising intonation and a neutral voice. Meaningless words like "however" were also spoken in both intonations. As a result, the left hemisphere of the dogs' brains activated when they heard meaningful words while the right hemisphere activated when researchers spoke in a praising intonation. But dogs became truly happy when they heard praising words in praising intonations.

"So dogs not only tell apart what we say and how we say it, but they can also combine the two, for a correct interpretation of what those words really meant," Andics said. Researchers believe that the findings could make it possible for cooperation and communication between dogs and humans to be more efficient.

In hindsight, one can say that dogs are indeed more intelligent than we think they are. The results of the study likewise debunk the traditional thought that dogs' understanding of human speech is only limited to intonation. So now you know how your bestfriends feel when you praise them and how they would also feel if you get upset.

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