Tue, Mar 28, 2017 | updated 11:41 AM IST

Dogs understand what we say and how: Study

Updated: Aug 31, 2016 14:22 IST

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)

New Delhi, Mar.28 (ANI): Cuemath, the premier program for 'math excellence' for students in KG to grade 8 organized a prestigious one day event to honour its wide network of Cuemath Teachers in Delhi recently.

Full Story >>

London [UK], Mar. 28 (ANI): With progress in technology, people's view towards things change, of course on a positive note.

Full Story >>

London [UK], Mar. 28 (ANI): From our very young age, we're told cheating is wrong and we should all be faithful to our partners.

Full Story >>

Washington D.C. [USA], Mar. 28 (ANI): If you have a particular tree nut allergy, then generally you are being asked to avoid every kind of nuts.

Full Story >>

London [UK], Mar. 28 (ANI): Does your boss nag and expect a lot from you? Here's a solution to keep up to their expectations- take a power nap in the afternoon!

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], Mar. 27 (ANI): From neighborhood boutique hotels to luxury hotels that are five-star, five diamond retreats; it's easy to fall in love with Beverly Hills.

Full Story >>

Washington D.C. [USA], Mar. 27 (ANI): A study finds that people who are exposed more to entertainment television are less cognitively sophisticated and socio-politically engaged, suggesting the reason as to why populist politicians come to power.

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], Mar 27 (ANI): If Sleeping Beauty were here today in a fairytale adventure in India, she would probably attribute her sound sleep to Springfit Mattresses. No wonder, the Indian brand has chosen the sultry Bipasha Basu and her better half Karan Singh Grover as the Brand Ambassadors of Springfit Mattresses' and launched the Young and Trendy Autograph Collection along with a TVC shoot for the brand at Film City at the hands of the power couple alongside Nitin Gupta, Executive Director, Springfield Mattresses and SK Malhotra, Head, Sales and Marketing of the brand.

Full Story >>

Video games help to fight depression?

Updated: Mar 27, 2017 12:32 IST

New Delhi [India], Mar. 27 (ANI): Do you know video game can be an effective treatment if your child is undergoing depression?

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], Mar. 27 (ANI): If you are much into watching entertainment channels on TV, then according to a study, you are more likely to vote for populist politicians.

Full Story >>

Choose sunscreen according to your skin tone

Updated: Mar 27, 2017 09:46 IST

New Delhi [India], Mar. 27 (ANI): Sun protection is essential throughout the year, but it gets yet more important during the summers. Protecting the skin from excessive exposure is the only way to prevent it from aging, sun burns, and skin discoloration. The ultimate solution of any sun protection regimen is the proper and regular use of a high SPF sunscreen.

Full Story >>

Washington D.C. [USA], Mar. 26 (ANI): After spending the whole day in school, ask your kids to play for ten minutes daily as it can reduce your child's risk of having heart disease, stroke and diabetes, in adulthood, reveals a study.

Full Story >>

Washington D.C. [U.S.A.], Mar. 27 (ANI): After a heart attack, ask your grandparents to make their bed, do laundry or carry groceries as it may start the road to recovery soon, suggests a study.

Full Story >>

Washington D.C. [USA], Mar. 26 (ANI): You may want to encourage your children to get up and exercise as a recent study has suggested that inactive teens have weaker bones than those who are physically active.

Full Story >>

Washington D.C. [USA], Mar. 26 (ANI): White families with children typically live in less diverse areas than other racial groups, according to a recent study.

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], Mar. 26 (ANI): Disabilities in children are difficult to diagnose and are often seen in the form of subtle signs like social awkwardness, withdrawal, hyperactivity or inability to focus on a particular task at hand etc.

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], Mar 25 (ANI): Are you amongst those who have infatuation with Turkey and the Mediterranean region? Are you someone who is in awe of blue, white and yellow hues that give a glimpse of unique culture and goodness of Turkish architecture?

Full Story >>

Washington D.C. [USA], Mar. 25 (ANI): A new study has found that as little as 10 minutes a day of high-intensity physical activity could help some children reduce their risk of developing heart problems and metabolic diseases such as diabetes.

Full Story >>

Mumbai [India], Mar. 25 (ANI): The Indian School of Design and Innovation (ISDI) which is in association with Parsons, The New School of Design, New York, took fashion incubation to a whole new level with the launch of their student's label "Asvaga" on Pernia's Pop-Up Shop. Pernia's Pop-Up Shop is India's first luxury fashion store for men and women.

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], Mar. 24 (ANI): Various mobile applications are permitting us to track our sleeping patterns, food intake and exercise or workout patterns.

Full Story >>