How do dogs get compliments?

How do dogs actually communicate? A scientific article on the dog’s brain and lines for understanding it

All dog owners are familiar with the phrase “good dog” and tend to say it in a loud and happy voice that makes the dog smile and wag his tail cheerfully. This insurance has aroused the curiosity of scientists to understand what exactly happens in the dog’s brain when he hears praise, that is, he hears that his owner is happy with him, and whether we act the same way when we receive compliments or satisfaction from other people.

When a person receives a compliment, the more primitive and subcutaneous auditory regions first respond to the intonation – the emotional power of spoken words. The brain then taps on the recently developed audio cortex to understand the meaning of the words being learned. In 2016 a team of scientists discovered that the brains of dogs, like those of humans, compute the intonation and meaning of a word separately – although dogs use their right brain hemisphere for this, while we use our left hemisphere.

The mystery remains: Do their brains go through the same stages to process the certificate?

This is an important question because dogs do not know how to speak, and yet respond correctly to our words. The journal Scientific Reports published this week that certain dogs are able to identify thousands of names of individual objects, and can link each name to a specific object. Even here on Petnet we have previously published a story that illustrates this. When scientists examined scans of pet dogs’ brains, they found that their brains, like ours, process the sounds of words spoken hierarchically – and first analyzed the emotional component with the older area of ​​the brain, the subcortical areas, and then the meaning of the words with the new part. More, the cerebral cortex.

This discovery deepens our understanding of how human language evolved. Most remarkably, dogs and humans recently shared a common ancestor about a hundred million years ago, so it is likely that the minds of many mammals respond to the sounds of sound in a similar way.

The experiment

For , the researchers recruited 12 pet dogs (6 Border Collies, 5 Golden Retrievers and a German Shepherd). The researchers trained the dogs to willingly enter and lie quietly in a functional magnetic imaging machine, or fMRI, where they listened to a dog trainer speaking well-known words of praise, such as “smart” and “well done,” in addition to neutral words such as “mother” and “yet.” The trainer in the “mother tongue” of the dogs, sometimes uttered the words in an enthusiastic, glorifying intonation, and other times – in a neutral tone, and deliberately repeated the words.

The machines scanned the dogs’ brain activity while he was talking. Initially, auditory areas in the subcortical areas and in the cerebral cortex in the dogs’ brains showed increased activity when they heard the words. But when the dogs listened to the same intonation (praise or neutral) that was repeated many times, regardless of the cognition of the words, the level of activity in the old part dropped rapidly. This rapid decrease implies intonation processing in earlier dog brain regions. Similarly, if they listened to repetitions of known words, the level of activity in the newer area of ​​their brains gradually decreased – but not when listening to unknown words.

This very slow decrease in activity in response to known words indicates that newer brain regions are involved in processing the meaning of the words. Research shows that what we say and how we say it is important to dogs, said we may deduce this from our interaction with dogs, but it is somewhat surprising when dogs are not talking, and their communication system which is mostly barking has no clear separation between meaning and intonation.

Previous studies have shown that many animals, from songbirds to dolphins, use the cortex to process emotional cues, and the cortex for signal analysis is taught to be more complex – even though they cannot speak. Zebras, for example, can listen to emotions in the cries of other herbivorous species and learn if there are predators nearby. It is likely that human language evolved from such cues, and mobilized the same neurological systems for speech development.

As domesticated animals that have evolved alongside humans over the last 10,000 years, dogs make special use of this ancient ability to process human emotions, it helps to explain why dogs are able to communicate with us relatively so easily.

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