Study Proves that Dogs Understand Words and Intonation

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Dog owners have always suspected that their pets understand their words and how they are said. It feels so natural to have a “chat” with a dog, even though our species are vastly different. A recent study, detailed in the new issue of Science, claims that dogs can, in fact, understand both words and intonation.

In order to test the theory that dog brains can understand language and recognize how words are said with the rising and falling of the voice (intonation), researchers found some very accommodating dogs that could calmly lay in an MRI machine while they watched their brain patterns react to trainers talking to them.

They found that dogs tended to process meaning in the left side of their brain and intonation in the right, much like humans. AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) wrote, “The results reveal important insights into the neural networks needed to understand speech, hinting that perhaps both humans and dogs may have relied on similar networks that were already in place before language evolved, and later adapted to process speech.”

Lead author Attila Andics of Eötvös Loránd University said, “This shows that dogs not only separate what we say from how we say it, but also that they can combine the two for a correct interpretation of what those words really meant.”

Now, go let your pooch know what you’ve learned about their impressive brain.