Researchers from Hungary’s Eötvös Loránd University discovered a canine’s brain can tell the difference between the speech patterns of familiar and unfamiliar languages.
The researchers scanned the brain of 18 dogs while the pups listened to audio excerpts from The Little Prince in Spanish and Hungarian. Each dog listened to a highly familiar language in their owner’s voice and an unfamiliar language in another person’s voice.
Results showed that the dogs’ secondary auditory cortex could tell if they were listening to something in Spanish or Hungarian.
The study also found a correlation between a dog’s age and their ability to pick up on a particular language’s auditory regularities.
The researchers believe that, because older canines spend more time with their humans, they become better at detecting the unique characteristics of the language they’re regularly exposed to.
The team also had the dogs listen to scrambled versions of the same audio excerpts to see whether the pups could differentiate between speech and non-speech sounds.
After studying the results, scientists saw clear activity patterns in the primary auditory cortex of the dogs’ brains. They also noted that these patterns emerged regardless of the language the dogs were listening to.
The Inspiration for the Study
According to Fox 59, the experiment began when the study’s first author, Laura Cuaya, moved from Mexico to Hungary with her dog, Kun-kun.
Before moving, Cuaya only spoke to Kun-kun in Spanish. She wondered whether Kun-kun had noticed any changes in the language being used around them.
Since people, including preverbal infants, can detect the sound differences between languages, Cuaya wanted to find out if dogs have a similar ability. To do this, she and her research team decided to conduct an imaging study.
Different Ways to Communicate with Your Dogs
It’s exciting to find out dogs can distinguish between different languages, especially for dog parents living in a bilingual household. They may want to start exploring their dogs’ language-listening skills by talking to them in foreign languages and seeing how their four-legged pals respond.
However, saying verbal commands is not the only way to communicate with dogs. You can also use non-verbal cues when instructing your pets to carry out specific tasks.
An effective way to direct your dogs into doing certain actions is by using the right pet merchandise to get the message across. For example, whenever you’re out with your pups for your regular walk, you can tell your dogs to stop by gently tugging on their custom dog collars and leashes.
For more news about dogs, pet health, and the pet industry, check out the PrideBites blog. We post new articles several times a week.