Dogs Understand Us Better Than We Think

How Do Dogs Understand Humans

Even if the dog owners sometimes feel misunderstood, their four-legged friends listen to them carefully. The inclination of the dog's head reveals what he knows - emotion or meaning.

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Dogs perceive language, according to researchers, quite similar as we humans. Who says what and how? All this information is contained in a word or phrase that you can hear from the human language. Different language components such as the meaning of the words or their emphasis will be processed in different halves of the brain, - this was mentioned by British scientists' report in the "Current Biology" journal.

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Victoria and David Ratcliffe Reby from the University of Sussex Falmer had played the sounds in different experiments for each of 25 dogs, for both their ears simultaneously. In general the speakers emphasized a part of the language particularly strong, mainly the meaningful portions of a command or the information for the dog about the speaker and his mood. Then they observed the direction, in which the dog turned his head. This allowed the conclusions to be drawn, in which half of the brain, called hemisphere, the individual speech components were processed.

Emotion or Meaning?

"The input of the ears is transmitted for the most part in the respective opposite hemisphere of the brain," said Ratcliffe. "When a hemisphere is specialized for the processing of certain information components, then that is perceived as if they come from the opposite ear." If a dog looks so after a certain sound to the left, that is to say that the stuck information is processed mainly in the right hemisphere.

In the first experiment, the researchers, for example, emphasized the meaningful components of the expression "come on then" ("Well, go!"). 80 percent of the dogs turned their heads then to the right. This tends to suggest that the meaningful language elements are processed in the left hemisphere. The researchers then increased, however, the emotional stress of a command, turned a lot of the dogs head to the left - these language components are thus processed more in the right hemisphere, the scientists conclude.
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"This is particularly interesting, because the results suggest that language processing in the dogs' brain goes in two halves of the brain and thus is divided very similar to humans' brain processes," said Reby. That does not mean that dogs understand everything that a person says.

Whether similar language processing between man and dog is a consequence of domestication and whether it is similar in other domestic and wild animals, it should be further investigated. 

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