According to a new study published in the Journal Science, dogs can understand us when we speak to them. Obviously, these findings may not seem life-changing; most dogs get excited when dinner is offered or when a leash is waved in front of their face. It used to be believed that dogs simply understood the way words were said, and used this to decipher whether or not they were being reprimanded or praised. These recent findings, however, disprove this theory and show that, like humans, dogs can understand the way words are being said and what the words mean. The study was done by Atilla Andics at Eotvos Lorand University in Hungary. 13 dogs were studied: Golden Retrievers, Border Col
lies, a German Shepherd and a Chinese Crested. Each dog was trained to lie down and remain still in a scanner for seven minutes. The neural activity in the dogs’ brains were studied when words were said with various inflections, both positive and negative. The researchers found that dogs use both their left and right hemispheres of the brain to understand speech.
The right hemisphere understands intonation, or the way words are being said. The left hemisphere of the brain understands the meaning of words. The study also found that dogs can understand over 1,000 words said by humans. Humans use both the left and right hemispheres of the brain to understand speech.
The combination of these two interpretations of speech gives humans the abilities to fully understand what a person is saying and the way they say it. Dogs also use these parts of the brain to understand what a person is saying and how the words are being said. The scientists also found that dogs are only truly happy when phrases like “good boy,” or “good job,” are said with a positive or cheerful tone, as opposed to being said with a negative tone. Andics and the others who worked on this project hope that in the future they will be understand how dogs process speaker identities, speech sounds, and sentences