How dogs take in what people say


Dogs maybe taking in much more of human speech than we previously thought, according to new research in Britain.

Victoria Ratcliffe and David Reby of the school of psychology at the University of Sussex, have been investigating how dogs respond to what people say – and how they say it.

When people hear another person talking to them, they respond not only to what is being said, but also to the emotional tone of what is being said. The report in the Cell Press journal Current Biology provides some of the first evidence of how dogs may also differentiate and process the same components of human speech.

The researchers were interested in whether dogs processed human speech in the left or right hemisphere of their brain.

Previous research into how dogs responded to the vocalisation sounds of other dogs indicated that dogs have hemispheric biases in the way they process this information.

"Our results suggest that the processing of speech components in the dog's brain is divided between the two hemispheres in a way that is actually very similar to the way it is separated in the human brain," Reby says. The results are published in Current Biology.

The researchers emphasised the results do not mean dogs understand human language. But in Ratcliffe's words it does show our dogs are paying attention "not only to who we are and how we say things, but also to what we say".

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