Dogs not only understand certain words but are also able to relate what is said to the speaker's intonation. According to the neurophysiologists from the University of Budapest, Hungary, in such a way dogs can understand what the speaker means.

The scientists argue that dogs use the left hemisphere of their brain to process the meaning of words and the right hemisphere to assess intonation. The same process takes place in humans during conversation. This means that dogs can distinguish between situations where their owners are inconsistent with the words, talking gibberish, and the tone with which they are uttered. For example, when a dog is being praised, a signal is sent to the pleasure center of a dog's brain, but only in case it is uttered in the appropriate tone.


This was discovered by studying the brains of dogs using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Scientists trained 13 pets to lie motionless in the scanner while their handlers said various phrases: "well done," "smart," "good boy," and so on. The words were uttered in both an appropriate and inappropriate tone. Absolutely incoherent, senseless words were also pronounced with an approving or disapproving intonation and the animals did not react to them.

"Speech belongs solely to a man, but now we can see that the neural connections used to process it are not unique to humans," Dr. Attila Andix of Budapest University noted.

The study has been published in the journal Science.


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