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Dog Speech Perception

September 2, 2016

Both dogs and people use the left hemisphere of their brains the process words and the right to process intonation.

Transcript

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BOB HIRSHON (host):

How dogs perceive words. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Humans have been talking to dogs for at least 30,000 years, and possibly much longer.

ATTILA ANDICS (Eötvös Loránd University, Hungary):

But actually very little is known about how they interpret what we are saying.

HIRSHON:

That’s Eötvös Loránd University research fellow Attila Andics. He and his colleagues report in Science magazine that dogs, like humans, process words with the left hemisphere of their brains and intonation with the right. Andics says until now, this was thought to be a uniquely human trait. What’s more, they found that the reward centers of dogs’ brains are activated only when words of praise are coupled with a positive intonation, like: “good boy!”. But not for the more neutral “good boy”.

ANDICS:

It seems dogs combine what we say and how we say it to arrive at a unified meaning. It does matter what we say and how we say it, both.

HIRSHON:

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

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Story by Susanne Bard