A new study has shown that dogs understand both the meaning of words we say to them as well as inferring meaning from tone. According to a recent article in the New York Times, dogs brains process speech very similar to human toddlers.
During the study, conducted in Hungary, scientists trained 13 canines to relax inside of an MRI machine while researchers spoke to them. The researchers used words with both positive and negative intonations and discovered that the canines’ left hemisphere understood the meaning of the words, regardless of the tone, associating words with positive or negative experiences, pretty close to how humans decipher language. They also pay close attention to body language and eye movements.
This is big news in terms of evolution of language. “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,” the study’s lead scientist, Attila Andics, told the New York Times. “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.”
So the next time you take your dog to the vet and wonder why they are acting anxious before you even arrive, you and your family will know to keep those lips sealed!