Dogs have always been extremely receptive to human communication. However, a new study from Eötvös Loránd University provides an interesting new insight into how our four-legged friends respond to human speech.
Dogs' brains and speech intonation
Hungarian scientists have discovered that dogs’ brains are remarkably similar to babies’ brains when it comes to processing speech with the exaggerated intonation characteristic of women. This type of speech, which is often used to communicate with babies, plays a key role in their cognitive, social and language development.
Using functional magnetic resonance imaging on trained dogs, it was found that the animals responded more strongly to speech addressed specifically to them or to infants than to speech addressed to adults. This suggests that dogs intuitively sense when people are addressing them directly.
Women and their special influence on dogs
“What makes this result particularly interesting is that in dogs, unlike infants, this sensitivity cannot be explained by an ancient response to kin signals or by intrauterine exposure to the female voice. Surprisingly, the tone of voice characteristic of female-dog communication is not normally used in dog-dog communication. Thus, our results may provide evidence for a ‘neural preference’ that dogs have developed during their domestication”.
“The increased sensitivity of dogs’ brains to speech directed at them and uttered by women may be related to the fact that women are more likely to address dogs with exaggerated intonation than men,” explains Anna Gabor, one of the lead authors of the study.
This study not only adds to our knowledge of how dogs perceive us, but also highlights the importance of communicating with our pets in the right way.
The study is published in the journal Communications Biology and is also mentioned on Phys.org.
Prepared by Mary Clair