Dogs Know More than We Knew

(p. A14) Dr. Andics, who studies language and behavior in dogs and humans, along with Adam Miklosi and several other colleagues, reported in a paper to be published in this week’s issue of the journal Science that different parts of dogs’ brains respond to the meaning of a word, and to how the word is said, much as human brains do.
. . .
A trainer spoke words in Hungarian — common words of praise used by dog owners like “good boy,” “super” and “well done.” The trainer also tried neutral words like “however” and “nevertheless.” Both the praise words and neutral words were offered in positive and neutral tones.
The positive words spoken in a positive tone prompted strong activity in the brain’s reward centers. All the other conditions resulted in significantly less action, and all at the same level.
. . .
In terms of evolution of language, the results suggest that the capacity to process meaning and emotion in different parts of the brain and tie them together is not uniquely human. This ability had already evolved in non-primates long before humans began to talk.

For the full story, see:
JAMES GORMAN. “For Dogs, It’s What You Say and Also How You Say It.” The New York Times (Tues., AUG. 30, 2016): A14.
(Note: ellipses, and bracketed date, added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date AUG. 29, 2016, and has the title “With Dogs, It’s What You Say — and How You Say It.”)

The scientific article on canine cognition, mentioned above, is:
Andics, A., A. Gábor, M. Gácsi, T. Faragó, D. Szabó, and Á Miklósi. “Neural Mechanisms for Lexical Processing in Dogs.” Science 353, no. 6303 (Sept. 2, 2016): 1030-32.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.