The recent studies being done on dogs’ brains are continuing to amaze the scientific world as we learn more and more about the results of domesticating dogs. Now that scientists have trained dogs to get into the MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) machine, the data is coming in fast and furious.
A report released yesterday by Cell Press discusses how dogs hear our voices and if they can understand what we are saying. The answer is, sort of. Speaking involves more than words, and scientists take into account additional factors including body language, tone of voice, resonance, volume and more. According to a report, yesterday in Science Newsline, dogs hear not only just the words we speak, but also how we say them. Dogs react to not only the words but also the information that the speaker is communicating, and the reaction is processed in different parts of the brain. According to the report each ear is processed in the opposite hemisphere of the brain. If the dog appears to look left towards a sound, the right hemisphere is processing that sound. Dogs are responding to not only what is said, but who said it, and how it was said.
The report was also covered in Science News yesterday. According to this article, dogs may favor one hemisphere over another depending upon words of familiarity or generic gibberish. Both articles discuss that the report shows similarities to the way human and dog brains process language.
The experiment took 25 dogs and discussed that the testing of “hemispheric biases” in relation to “communicative components” of speech with humans had never been studied in domesticated animals. The scientists discussed as well that over the period of domestication of dogs, the canine species may have created pathways in the brain processed through ancestral lines specializations for understanding humans and similarities in how they process the sounds humans make.
The io9.com website chimed in with observations that dogs responded in “contextually appropriate ways” to human tones of voice. George Dvorsky, author of the article mentioned that further tests will be done on horses and wolves as domesticated, and non-domesticated animals to do comparisons in the future.
To any dog owner, it is very clear that dogs can understand names, commands, tone of voice and more. Dogs react differently to a higher voice than a lower voice. If the dog chews the couch and the owner comes home and yells in a high pitched voice, and feels angry, the dog knows it, and YouTube is full of guilty dog faces after they have done something they should not.`
So, rest assured when discussing things with dogs, that they may not understand everything being said, but they are processing details in the background and are understanding how things are being said as well as some of the context around the speech. Share the love because dogs understand that for sure.