summary: A recent study highlights that dogs are more receptive to speech directed specifically at them, especially when spoken to by women. Using fMRI scans of trained family dogs, the study discovered that dogs’ brains respond more strongly to speech directed at dogs and infants than to normal speech from adults.
The results indicate that dogs have a unique sensitivity to exaggerated prose, especially in the female voice. This neural sensitivity may have evolved during domestication and provides insight into how speech signals affect dogs.
- Dogs’ auditory brain regions showed increased responses to speech directed at them, especially if spoken to by women, implying a unique neural sensitivity in dogs.
- This study is the first of its kind to provide neurological evidence that dogs are particularly attuned to speech directed at them.
- The exaggerated tone typical of female canine speech does not reflect patterns found in dog-to-dog communication, suggesting that dogs may have developed this sensitivity during their domestication.
source: Eötvös Lorand University
Dogs show greater brain sensitivity to speech directed at them than to speech directed at adults, especially if spoken by women, according to a new 2019 study. Communication biology.
By conducting an fMRI study on trained dogs, Hungarian researchers at the Department of Ethology, Eotvos Lorand University, Natural Sciences Research Center and Eotvos Lorand Research Network revealed intriguing similarities between the brains of infants and dogs during speech processing using exaggerated displays.
When communicating with individuals with limited language proficiency (such as infants and dogs), to attract and maintain their attention, we speak in a specific speech style characterized by exaggerated displays.
Speech directed to infants is very important as it helps the healthy cognitive, social and language development of babies. Therefore, it is not surprising that children’s brains are tuned to this style of speech. But are dogs’ brains also sensitive to the way we talk to them?
To answer this question, the Hungarian researchers measured the dogs’ brain activity via functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). In magnetic resonance imaging, trained, conscious family dogs listened to speech directed at dogs, infants, and adults recorded from 12 women and 12 men in real-life interactions.
“Studying how canine brains process speech directed at dogs is exciting, as it can help us understand how exaggerated displays contribute to efficient speech processing in non-human species skilled in relying on various speech cues (for example, following verbal commands). ” – explains Anna Gergeli, co-first author of the study.
The study shows that the auditory brain regions of dogs responded more to speech directed at dogs and infants than they did at speech directed at adults, the first neurological evidence that dogs’ brains are attuned to speech directed specifically at them.
Interestingly, the sensitivity to speech directed at dogs and infants in the dogs’ brains was more pronounced when the speakers were women and was affected by the tone and variety of the voice.
These findings suggest that the way we talk to our dogs is important, and that their brains are particularly sensitive to the exaggerated tone typical of a female voice.
“What makes this finding particularly interesting is that in dogs, unlike infants, this sensitivity cannot be explained by an ancient response to specific cues or by intrauterine exposure to women’s voices.
“Remarkably, the patterns of vocal tones that characterize women’s canine-directed speech are not typically used in dog-to-dog communication — and so our findings may serve as evidence for the neural preference that dogs developed during their domestication.
“The increased sensitivity of canine brains to canine speech spoken by women specifically may be due to the fact that women speak to dogs more often in exaggerated tones than men.” – explains Anna Gabor, co-first author of the study.
About Animal Psychology Research News
author: Sarah Boom
source: Eötvös Lorand University
communication: Sarah Bohm – Eotvos Lorand University
picture: Image credited to Neuroscience News
Original search: open access.
“Dogs’ brains are sensitive to presentations directed at infants and dogsBy Anna Gergeli et al. Communication biology
Dogs’ brains are sensitive to presentations directed at infants and dogs
When dealing with preverbal babies and family dogs, people tend to use specific speech styles. While recent studies suggest vocal similarities between speech addressed to infants and dogs, it is unclear whether dogs, like infants, exhibit enhanced neural sensitivity to acoustic aspects of speech addressed to them.
Using fMRI on awake, unrestrained dogs, we identified two non-primary auditory regions, one involving the ventral part of the left caudal sylvian gyrus and the temporal pole and the other at the transition of the left caudal gyrus and the rostral sylvian gyrus, which respond more to normal speech directed to dogs and/or infants compared to Speech directed at adults, especially when spoken by female speakers.
This increase in activity is driven by sensitivity to mean fundamental frequency and variance leading to positive modulatory effects of these acoustic parameters in both of the above non-basic auditory regions. These results show that the auditory cortex of dogs, similar to that of human infants, is sensitive to the acoustic properties of speech directed at non-speaking partners.
This increased neural response to exaggerated displays may be one reason why dogs outperform other animals at speech processing.