Ever wonder how much your dog understands when you talk to them?
In a new study published in Science, dogs were found to interpret both words and intonations, suggesting that dogs and humans process linguistic information in a similar way.
In this study, researchers trained 13 dogs over the course of 3 months to remain still in an fMRI scanner. The dogs listened to recordings of their owners speaking in 4 different ways: a praising word in a praising tone, a neutral word in a praising tone, a praising word in a neutral tone, and a neutral word in a neutral tone.
Neuroimaging results found that the left hemisphere of the brain responded to the word itself, while the right hemisphere responded to intonation. Furthermore, the dog’s reward center was activated only when a praising word was combined with a praising tone!
Other studies have also explored the extent to which dogs understand and communicate with us. Results have found that dogs can read facial expressions and display complex emotions such as jealousy and empathy. These people-like traits were likely picked up during their evolution alongside humans over many thousands of years.
And communication similarities aren’t the only thing dogs developed from interacting with humans! Click here for more info on their dietary evolution.
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