Sat, Jun 24, 2017 | updated 07:42 AM IST

Dogs understand what we say and how: Study

Updated: Aug 31, 2016 14:22 IST      
Dogs understand what we say and how: Study

Washington D.C. [USA], Aug. 31 (ANI): Scientists have found that man's best friend, the dog, actually understands what we say and how we say it.

Dogs, like people, use the left hemisphere of their brain to process words and the right hemisphere brain region to process intonation. The owner's praise of the pet activates the dog's reward centre only when both words and intonation match.

The findings suggest that the neural mechanisms to process words evolved much earlier than previously thought, and they are not unique to the human brain.

It shows that if an environment is rich in speech, as is the case of family dogs, word meaning representations can arise in the brain, even in a non-primate mammal that is not able to speak.

Attila Andics, the lead author of the study, said, "During speech processing, there is a well-known distribution of labor in the human brain. It is mainly the left hemisphere's job to process word meaning, and the right hemisphere's job to process intonation. The human brain not only separately analyzes what we say and how we say it, but also integrates the two types of information, to arrive at a unified meaning. Our findings suggest that dogs can also do all that, and they use very similar brain mechanisms."

Marta Gacsi, co-author of the study said, "We trained thirteen dogs to lay completely motionless in an fMRI brain scanner. fMRI provides a non-invasive, harmless way of measurement that dogs enjoy to take part of."

"We measured dogs' brain activity as they listened to their trainer's speech. Dogs heard praise words in praising intonation, praise words in neutral intonation, and also neutral conjunction words, meaningless to them, in praising and neutral intonations. We looked for brain regions that differentiated between meaningful and meaningless words, or between praising and non-praising intonations," she added.

The brain activation images showed that dogs prefer to use their left hemisphere to process meaningful and not meaningless words. This left bias was present for weak and strong levels of brain activations as well, and it was independent of intonation.

Dogs activate a right hemisphere brain area to tell apart praising and non-praising intonation.

This was the same auditory brain region that this group of researchers previously found in dogs for processing emotional non-speech sounds from both dogs and humans, suggesting that intonation processing mechanisms are not specific to speech.

Andics and her colleagues also noted that praise activated dogs' reward centre, the brain region which responds to all sorts of pleasurable stimuli, like food, sex, being petted, or even nice music in humans.

Importantly, the reward centre was active only when dogs heard praise words in praising intonation.

"It shows that for dogs, a nice praise can very well work as a reward, but it works best if both words and intonation match. So dogs not only tell apart what we say and how we say it, but they can also combine the two, for a correct interpretation of what those words really meant. Again, this is very similar to what human brains do," said Andics.

This study is the first step to understanding how dogs interpret human speech, and these results can also help to make communication and cooperation between dogs and humans even more efficient, the researchers say.

The findings also have important conclusions about humans.

"Our research sheds new light on the emergence of words during language evolution. What makes words uniquely human is not a special neural capacity, but our invention of using them," Andics explains.

The study was published in Science journal. (ANI)

Maybe sex doesn't sell after all

Updated: Jun 23, 2017 17:39 IST     

Washington D.C. [USA], Jun 23 (ANI): The ad world has sworn by the old cliche "sex sells" for years, but it turns out, this might not be all that accurate.

Full Story >>

Iftar treats to enjoy this Ramadan

Updated: Jun 23, 2017 14:07 IST     

New Delhi [India], June 23 (ANI): "Ramadan is, in its essence, a month of humanist spirituality," observes Swiss philosopher Tariq Ramadan.

Full Story >>

Training while it's raining: What to wear while it rains

Updated: Jun 23, 2017 13:58 IST     

New Delhi [India], June 23 (ANI): The rain outside should not be an excuse to skip your daily work outs. All you need to do is put on the right gear.

Full Story >>

Celebrating the spirit of riding with women riders

Updated: Jun 23, 2017 13:55 IST     

New Delhi [India], June 23 (ANI): To celebrate the growing passion of motorcycling amongst women, Royal Enfield conducted a workshop led by women in association with DRER (Delhi Royal Enfield Riders) at the company's brand store in Khan Market here.

Full Story >>

No more 'no' to video games

Updated: Jun 23, 2017 13:02 IST     

Washington D.C. [USA], June 23 (ANI): Next time your kid asks for your permission to play video games, let him! In fact, you should join him too!

Full Story >>

Feeling grumpy? Blame summer heat

Updated: Jun 23, 2017 11:51 IST     

Washington D.C. [USA], June 23 (ANI): Next time people accuse you of being unhelpful or moody, put the blame on hot weather!

Full Story >>

Washington D.C. [USA], June 23 (ANI): Parents, take note! A new research has shown starting school early could have a negative impact on child's wellbeing.

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], June 23 (ANI): Here's a treat for all music lovers!

Full Story >>

This long weekend, here's where you can head for getaway

Updated: Jun 23, 2017 09:25 IST     

New Delhi [India], June 23 (ANI): Long weekends are perfectly designed for short trips. Extricate the webs of your mundane life and zip off to amazing locations in the country.

Full Story >>

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], June 23 (ANI): Renowned filmmaker Subhash Ghai, who celebrated Yoga Day in his acting and filmmaking institute, stressed upon the importance of yoga for youth.

Full Story >>

Mizo cuisine: A hit among food lovers

Updated: Jun 22, 2017 18:44 IST      By: Chandrakala Choudhury

New Delhi, [India], June 22 (ANI): New Delhi, [India], June 22 (ANI): India's northeast region is known for its ethnicity, diverse culture and the flavors and dishes are as unique as their colorful lifestyle.

Full Story >>

Selfies: Decoded

Updated: Jun 22, 2017 16:53 IST     

Washington D.C. [USA], June 22 (ANI): It's now hard to imagine a life without selfies! Thanks to front-facing cameras and the rise of social media, selfies populate our camera rolls, Instagram feeds, dating profiles, and vocabularies.

Full Story >>

Increase in gun sales for self-defense than recreation

Updated: Jun 22, 2017 15:32 IST     

Washington D.C. [USA], June 22 (ANI): A new research suggests there has been a shift in the purchase of guns for self-defense use rather than recreational.

Full Story >>

Why men gain weight after saying 'I do'?

Updated: Jun 22, 2017 14:10 IST     

Washington D.C. [USA], June 22 (ANI): Bad news, ladies! Men get fatter after getting hitched and the early days of fatherhood add to the problem.

Full Story >>

Washington D.C. [USA], June 22 (ANI): Fathers-to-be! If you are thinking about the pain your partner will go through during delivery, just be there to hold her hand.

Full Story >>

Here're some tips-n-hacks for trekking, this monsoon

Updated: Jun 22, 2017 13:49 IST     

New Delhi [India], June 22 (ANI): Trekking is one such activity that most enjoy in order to reach that perfect "View-point". But there is more to that - trekking isn't just about reaching your summit, perfect view or destination, it's also about your journey.

Full Story >>

Increase body-image awareness to improve teens' health: Study

Updated: Jun 22, 2017 11:48 IST     

Washington D.C. [USA], June 22 (ANI): Dear parents, here's another reason why you should encourage your kid to stay fit and healthy.

Full Story >>

Monsoon clothing: Here are some tips to style yourself

Updated: Jun 22, 2017 10:36 IST     

New Delhi [India], June 22 (ANI): As the heat is being kicked by our beloved weather monsoon, it's time we take a break from our everyday boring formals and try out new styles.

Full Story >>

Pedal your way to office for a stress-free life

Updated: Jun 22, 2017 09:11 IST     

Washington D.C. [USA], June 22 (ANI): Do you know! Your mode of transportation to office decides your stress quotient at work.

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], June 22 (ANI): Google, today, has released a Doodle to celebrate the 117th birthday of Oskar Fischinger, the German-American artist, musician and filmmaker who created incredible works of animated art set to music.

Full Story >>