We know dogs get us. That is one of the reasons they are the best pets. It is not a surprise to anyone that dogs totally understand how we feel. But if a new study is to be believed, dogs don't just understand how we feel, but they actually understand what exactly we're saying to them. They know what our words mean, and they get the tone we are speaking in.
According to a National Geographic report, a new study has found out that a dog's brain also processes information just the way a human brain does. Attila Andics, an ethologist at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, Hungary, who lead the study, started studying canines because she wanted to understand how the brains of mammals process language.
It was quite a tough research to execute. For that, they had to scan the brains of dogs. And it took several months to train 13 pet dogs to stay still inside an MRI scanner. “The hardest part was getting them to understand that they needed to lie absolutely still. Once they realized that we meant completely still, it worked out great,” said Andics.
Andics and colleagues then showed how the dogs' brains respond to various sounds, including grunts, barks, whines, and shouts, from both people and other dogs. Human speech, though, was a different story. As Sophie Scott, a neuroscientist at University College London puts it, “There’s nothing in nature that’s as complex as human speech.”
To see how the dogs' brain works with human speech, the researchers played recordings of the dogs' owners talking in four different ways - A praising word in a praising tone, a neutral word in a neutral tone, a praising word in a neutral tone, and a neutral word in a praising tone.
Turns out, their brains responded to the word, and the intonation as well. The left hemisphere of the dogs' brains was stimulated by the word that was being spoken, the manner if speaking stimulated the right hemisphere. To activate the dog’s reward center, though, it took both the praising word and spoken in a praising tone too.
Cat owners, your felines may also understand what you are saying, but they don't pay heed to you anyway. So there's no study like this one for your pets.