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Dogs Understand Words, Not Just Intonation, New Study Shows

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By    |   Wednesday, 31 Aug 2016 10:43 AM

Dogs understand words, not just intonation, according to a new brain imaging study by scientists in Budapest, Hungary.

Using functional MRI, the researchers monitored dogs' brain activity while they listened to a trainer saying a variety of things with a variety of tones.

Similar to people, dogs process meaningful words in the left hemisphere, while tone is distinguished in the right auditory brain region, according to the study, published recently in the journal Science. Reward regions of the brain became active only when both words and tone were consistent with praise.

Attila Andics led the study, which examined 13 family dogs at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest.

"Using words may be a human invention, but we now see that the neuro mechanisms to process them are not uniquely human,"Andics said in a video about the research.

Previous studies have found that dogs can understand language, matching objects to words, for example, but this is the first time researchers have examined how language is processed in the brains of dogs, The Washington Post reported.

“One important thing is that we don’t claim that dogs understand everything we say, of course,” Andics told The Huffington Post in an email. “The main result is not that they can differentiate words, but that they differentiate meaningful and meaningless words, and the left hemisphere has a key role there,” he said.

Andics said he suspects similar brain activity occurs in other domesticated animals, such as cats and horses.

Twitter users seemed both fascinated and unsurprised by the study.

 

 

 

 

 

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Dogs understand words, not just intonation, according to a new brain imaging study by scientists in Budapest, Hungary.
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2016-43-31
Wednesday, 31 Aug 2016 10:43 AM
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