Have you heard the latest in the scientific dog news world? It’s pretty exciting, especially for those of us who spend more time talking to our pups than to other people! A new study shows that dogs actually might understand humans! I’m talking beyond the “Pavlovian response” words, like “ride in car,” “go for a walk” and “treats!” Actual basic understanding! Maybe.
Study Shows Dogs May Understand Humans Better Than We Thought
Scientists believe they have concrete evidence that dogs actually have some understanding of what humans are saying to them. A study was done by some researchers in Hungary, using 13 dogs- 6 Border Collies, 5 Golden Retrievers, 1 Chinese Crested and 1 German Shepherd. This is actually the first study that has ever been done to try and determine how a dog’s brain processes speech. The study was conducted by Attila Andics, a neuroscientist at Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest, Hungary, and a team of her colleagues and the full results are due to be published September 2, 2016 issue of Science Magazine.
During the study, the dogs’ brains were scanned as they were listening to their trainer talk to them through headphones. The dogs’ brains were scanned with a technique known as FMRI, or Functional MRI. The dogs were trained to lie still for 7 minutes inside the scanner while the tests were being performed. None of the dogs were restrained and all of them were awake during the entire process.
The female trainer that was used during the study was very familiar with each of the dogs. The female trainer spoke to the dogs using words of praise that their owners normally use like “well done” and “clever” and she also used neutral words like “if” and “yet.” The neutral words were supposed to be totally meaningless to the dogs and the trainer said each of the words in a neutral tone and then again in a happy tone.
Scientists wanted to find out what parts of the brain the dogs were using. Through this study, they discovered that, just as humans do, dogs used the left side of their brains to process words and they used the right side of their brains to process pitch. The researchers also discovered that the dogs’ reward center was stimulated by things like food and petting and the brain did the equivalent of jumping and yelping whenever positive words were said in a positive tone.
Attila Andics said in a statement, “It shows that for dogs, a nice praise can very well work as a reward, but it works best if both words and intonation match. 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.”
Is this not the best dog news all year? Finally, when you tell your dog a funny joke or talk about your day, you’ll actually be talking to someone who truly gets it! Well, sort of. As long as you’re using your “good boy” voice and they think it’s all about them. Seriously, though, this is pretty neat news!