Dogs Can Understand Words & Intonation, Process Speech Like Humans

New research published Monday in the journalScientific Reports, suggests dogs process speech hierarchically, just like humans, UPI reports. Studies have shown that dogs can understand both both words and intonation, but now researchers say exactly how: they process intonations first, at lower stages, and then word meanings at higher stages. The study used MRIs to observe dog brain activity when listening to words of praise like "well done," as well as neutral words like "as if" and "yet," spoken in praising and neutral tones. The test results showed dogs process intonations at lower stages, primarily in subcortical regions. At higher stages, cortical regions help dogs process different words. Surprisingly, older dogs were less likely to process speech at higher stages than younger dogs. Study co-author Attila Andics said the results showed similarities in processing between the two species. "Simpler, emotionally loaded cues -- such as intonation -- are typically analyzed at lower stages; while more complex, learnt cues -- such as word meaning -- are analyzed at higher stages in multiple species," Andics said.  Read more here