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Dogs understand Human Language

A new study reveals that dogs have the ability to recognize words, no matter who is speaking to them.

This adds to what was previously known that dogs can understand how we say things.

A team of UK researchers led by Dr Holly Root-Gutteridge of Susex University conducted an experiment and determined that dogs can recognize the same sounds that make up words, even when they are spoken by different people. This ability, which was considered intrinsic and exclusive of humans, to differentiate regardless of the age, sex, or voice tones of the person who pronounces, was proven by an experiment.

As the experiment was, the researchers chose English words that began with “h” and ended with “d” but had different vowels, such as “had”, “head”, “hid” and “hood”, which would not make any sense to the dog either. What happened? They put a group of people to pronounce the words, and repeat certain words, when they heard the repetitions the dogs did not react, but the dog was encouraged again to hear the change of vowel in the word, indicating that he noticed the difference. But when the voice says the word again with the initial vowel, its attention again loses interest.”

“These results are important because they confirm two aspects of dog recognition,”explains Dr. “First, they can distinguish subtle changes in vowels from certain words. Second, dogs isolate the sounds of words from all changes in sound quality related to different speakers.”

This research shows that despite what was previously believed, this ability is not unique to humans and that dogs share this linguistic ability, suggesting that speech perception may not be as special to humans as thought.”

You can also understand the way we speak to you

This is in addition to the 2016 research conducted by researchers in Budapest, which had managed to scientifically identify that dogs not only listened to what we were saying but had the ability to process as we said.

Scientists found that when we praise our dogs, reward centers in their brains are activated if the words match our tone of voice. These findings suggest that the ability to process words evolved much earlier than was thought and this evolution may not be unique to humans.

According to Phys.org, the study shows“that if an environment is full of verbal communication, as in the case of dogs with a multi-member family, representations of words may appear in the brain, even in a non-primate mammal that is not able to speak.”

Senior researcher, Atila Anics, from Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest explains:

“During speech processing, there is a well-known distribution of work in the human brain. The main work of the left hemisphere is to process the meaning of the word, while the work of the right hemisphere is to process intonation.

The human brain analyzes what we say and how we say it, and also integrates the two types of information to come up with meaning. Our findings suggest that dogs can also do this, and use very similar brain mechanisms.”

Processing words does not always mean understanding their meaning

There may be a difference between the fact that the dog processes words because he is familiar with them and the fact that he actually understands them. Study co-author Adam Miklosi and director of the Family Dog project, said for Scientific American magazine:

“The word “understand” can be a little misleading. Studies using brain imaging technology can not firmly say that the activation of a specific area of the brain indicates “understand”.

One of the most important results of the study is that it shows that the left hemisphere of the brain of dogs processes significant words and differences in tone of voice. This suggests that your dog can understand that “good dog” is a compliment no matter what tone of voice you use when you say it, because it recognizes those words as meaningful and not as meaningless.

“We believe intonation is important,”says Miklosi. “It is important to be consistent in the way we praise and in the overall communication we have with our dogs.”

Researchers suspect that they would obtain similar results in studies of other domestic animals such as cats and horses, as long as the animals have lived among humans. So the next time you have any questions, you know you can always consult your furry friend for help!

Written by Raul of Team Barki

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