Or at least some of it. According to Femina.hu, researchers at Eötvös Loránd University claim that dogs understand more of what humans say than previously thought.
It is quite understandable. The moment someone gets a dog, they start talking to them, getting familiar with them. They talk to them like they talk to other humans and dogs understand more of that than was previously thought. The new research claims that they not only understand what people say but how they say it.
Researchers of ELTE, Attila Andich and his colleagues involved 13 dogs living with families in their research, mostly border collies and golden retrievers, doing fascinating investigations. First off, the dogs were taught to sit calmly in an MRI machine so that their brain activity could be followed. However, it is important to note that they could walk away free as soon as they got bored of the examination.
The research involved the owners recording various praises and commands in different tones. With the help of this, scientists could observe what hearing the different words in different tones triggered in the dogs’ brains.
The results show that dogs reacted differently if they heard the word in a negative or a positive tone.
The part of their brain that registers praise – the same part that activates when they get food or any positive attention – was activated when they heard a praising word in a positive tone.
When hearing the same word in a negative tone, this part of their brain did not react, despite the same literal meaning.
So, the conclusion is that dogs can associate meaning with intonation. If they do not match, then the praise is not real, despite the meaning being there. This suggests that they operate similarly to humans – they analyse both what is said and how it is being said. Their reaction is to the combination of the two.
In other animal-related news, have you heard about this scandal involving a meerkat and a schoolkid?