Can your dog really understand what you’re saying?

Sometimes it may seem like your dog doesn’t want to listen. But in our study, however, we’ve found that he may understand more than he lets on.

Human speech is complex, communicating not only words but also tone, as well as information about the speaker such as their gender and identity. To what extent can a dog pick up on these different cues?

It’s well established that in humans the left hemisphere of the brain processes meaningful verbal content, as encoded in the fast-changing stream of audible sound. The brain’s right hemisphere, meanwhile, is more strongly associated with other information the voice carries, such as emotional tone – encoded in the voice’s slow-changing or static layers of sound.

Animals also show this left-right distinction in response to sounds produced by their own species. But until now, it wasn’t known whether animals – and particularly domesticated animals such as dogs – respond in a similar way to the various different communicative components of human speech. So we set up a study, now published in Current Biology, to see whether this was the case.

Read full, original article: Dog brains process human speech in the same way we do

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