Returning to the fascinating topic of how dogs understand us humans.
At the beginning of the month I published a post called Be Careful What You Say. It featured an item on BBC Radio Four regarding the science report from a team in Hungary seeking better to understand how dogs process human vocal sounds, as in speech. (The science report was rapidly featured in many other media outlets.)
Anyway, I am delighted to say that the Rights & Permissions Department of the AAAS pointed out that:
Virginia’s article is freely available on our open news website (http://www.sciencemag.org/news) so rather than post, please link to it (http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/08/video-your-dog-understands-more-you-think). Your site visitors will encounter no barriers to viewing the article on our website. We welcome hyperlinks to Science articles provided a plain text link is used and providing our content is not framed. We also ask that the text surrounding the hyperlink not imply any endorsement of your website, products or services by AAAS/Science.
The article, written by Virginia Morell, primarily features a video (see below) but I will just republish Virginia’s opening paragraphs.
It’s the eternal question for pet owners: Does your dog understand what you’re saying? Even if Fido doesn’t “get” your words, surely he gets your tone when you let loose about another accident on the carpet. But a new imaging study shows that dogs’ brains respond to actual words, not just the tone in which they’re said. The study will likely shake up research into the origins of language, scientists say, as well as gratify dog lovers.
“It’s an important study that shows that basic aspects of speech perception can be shared with quite distant relatives,” says Tecumseh Fitch, a cognitive biologist at the University of Vienna, who was not involved in the work.
It’s not a long article but for any dog lover it is a most interesting read.
So here’s that video.
Virginia concludes her article, thus:
The new results add to scientists’ knowledge of how canine brains process human speech. Dogs have brain areas dedicated to interpreting voices, distinguishing sounds (in the left hemisphere), and analyzing the sounds that convey emotions (in the right hemisphere).
The finding “doesn’t mean that dogs understand everything we say,” says Julie Hecht, who studies canine behavior and cognition at City University of New York in New York City and who was not involved in the study. “But our words and intonations are not meaningless to dogs.” Fitch hopes that similar studies will be done on other domestic animals and on human-raised wolves to see how much of this ability is hardwired in dogs and how much is due to growing up among talking humans.
What a wonderful relationship dogs and humans have with each other!