Scientists have found evidence to support what many dog owners have long believed: Man’s best friend really does understand some of what we’re saying.
Researchers in Hungary scanned the brains of dogs as they were listening to their trainer speaking to determine which parts of the brain they were using.
They found that dogs processed words with the left hemisphere and used the right hemisphere to process pitch — just like people.
What’s more, the dogs only registered that they were being praised if the words and pitch were positive. Meaningless words spoken in an encouraging voice, or meaningful words in a neutral tone, didn’t have the same effect.
Researchers imaged the brains of 13 dogs using a technique called functional MRI, or fMRI, which records brain activity.
The dogs— six border collies, five golden retrievers, a German shepherd and a Chinese crested — were trained to lie motionless in the scanner for seven minutes during the tests. The dogs were awake and unrestrained as they listened to their trainer’s voice through headphones.