Shhh, Your Dog Actually Understands You

Research finds that dogs and humans have similar neural networks for understanding speech.

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Contributing Writer
2 min read
This story originally appeared on PCMag

Your dog would never judge you. After all, he can't even understand what you're saying. It's all Charlie Brown wah wah wah as far as Fido is concerned, right? Maybe not.

In an upcoming issue of Science, researchers will argue that dogs and humans have similar neural networks that can be used to understand speech. Although humans evolved to understand speech and intonation more effectively, data suggests that dogs can do the same on a much smaller scale.

According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), researchers gave dogs MRIs while a recording of their trainer's voices were played. Analyzing the neuron activity in the dogs' brains, they determined that not only did the animals understand words and the tone of a trainer's voice, but they were capable of interpreting the information in a way that is strikingly similar to how humans interpret it.

The study went so far as to find that dogs, like humans, use the left hemisphere of their brains to process specific words. A combination of positive words and positive intonation also produced the most appealing result for dogs.

"This shows … that dogs not only separate what we say from how we say it, but also that they can combine the two for a correct interpretation of what those words really meant," Andics told the AAAS.

In other words, Mr. Bojangles is listening, so watch your mouth.

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