According to the new study which was published on this week on Frontiers, conclude that dogs understand some of the words we humans are using.
The researchers analyze dogs inside a fMRI scanner and they found showing different brain patterns in the pooches when they hear words they’ve heard before, compared with completely new words.
Since the dogs can follow verbal commands, its a sign of processing some aspects of human language.
But it’s a significant step forward in understanding how dogs process language particularly because it uses data gathered from the dogs themselves rather than the observations of their owners, the research team says.
The previous research suggested that dogs may depend on different signs to follow a verbal command, such as gaze, gestures and even emotional expressions from their owners.
The study uses 12 dogs of different breeds which are trained by their owners over several months to distinguish between two objects and to get or bring the right object when its name was mentioned.
At once, the dogs could figure out the object correctly, then the researchers move onto the next experiment of the fMRI scanner. At the end of the experiment, owners were asked to say the names of the objects the dogs had learned as well as the words they’ve never heard before. They mention the objects the dogs had been trained with or random objects.
When the results were pulled together, they showed brain activity in the canines increased when novel words and novel objects were said and presented.
“It is because the dogs want to please their owners and they straining to understand what’s being said.” The researchers added.
The researchers expected to see the dogs neurally discriminate between words that they know and words that they don’t. But it’s surprising that the outcome is opposite to that of research on humans. Dogs seem really smart enough to identify at least some of the words being spoken to them.
“Dogs may have varying capacity and motivation for learning and understanding human words,” says Berns, “but they appear to have a neural representation for the meaning of words they have been taught, beyond just a low-level Pavlovian response.”