Dogs can distinguish different human languages

We all know that dogs frequently listen to random sounds, whether it’s an annoying chirp of cricket, a squirrel climbing a tree, or even us humans talking in our daily lives. They may appear to be wandering mindlessly, but in reality, dogs pick up auditory patterns and signals that alert them to any changes or actions. One of these cases includes human language.

A neurobiologist named Laura Cuaya was curious about this phenomenon when she moved from Mexico to Hungary with her border collie named Kun-kun. Cuaya only had talk to your dog in spanish, but now that Kun-kun was in a place where people spoke Hungarian, she request if Kun-kun noticed this change.

“We know that people, even preverbal human infants, notice the difference. But maybe the dogs don’t bother. After all, we never draw our dogs’ attention to the sound of a specific language,” noted Cuaya in a press release.

As a result, Cuaya and his team of researchers set out to find an answer to this question. The team qualified 18 dogs of various breeds, including Kun-kun, lie motionless in a brain scanner while listening to speech clips from “The little Prince.”

However, the extracts had to be played in Spanish and Hungarian. The dogs tested knew only one of the two languages. In this way, the brains of the dogs were tested and compared to a language they know very well and to a language they do not know.

The results were exciting. Researchers find that different languages ​​triggered different patterns of activity in the dogs’ brains. This essentially confirmed that dogs were able to differentiate multiple languages. The results raise many new ideas and questions about non-human brains and speech.

“This is a very exciting study because it shows that the ability to pick up the sounds and rhythms of familiar language is something accessible to non-humans,” noted Amritha Mallikarjun, researcher at the Penn Vet Working Dog Center in Philadelphia.

The team too tested dogs to identify between speech and non-speech by playing scrambled versions of the excerpts. Once again, the dogs were able to tell the difference between the nonsense words and the actual language. Study co-author Raúl Hernández-Pérez noted the dogs simply noticed how “natural” the speech sound was to identify the difference.

The researchers also found that older dogs tended to discriminate between languages ​​better than young dogs. This uses the idea that because older dogs have been exposed to a language for longer, they better understand how the language sounds. The results of the study were published in “Neurolmage.”

This study presents a new idea of ​​how other animals might perceive human language in addition to dogs. However, Cuaya notes that dogs are unique for their interest in humans.

“The wonderful thing about dogs is that they want to cooperate,” she says. noted. “They want to understand us.”