A new study finds what most pet parents already suspected. That our pets know how we are feeling. Today we’ll learn more in this edition of Pet Pointers.
The look, the head tilt and the tail wagging are all signs your dog hears your voice and new research shows they may actually understand your emotional state.
In a paper published in the journal Current Biology, neuroscience researchers at E?—tv—s Loránd University in Budapest, Hungary, used functional magnetic resonance imagining technology, or fMRI, to scan the brains of dogs as they listened to 200 sounds in three categories: human voices, dog vocalizations and meaningless sounds.
The dogs were trained to enter the MRI machine and lie still. The non-invasive scan took six minutes and was also conducted on humans as a comparison.
Researchers found 13 percent of a dog’s brain responded specifically when hearing human speech and similarly in the human brain-specific areas were also triggered, about 10 percent, when hearing the vocalizations of dogs. Revealing a human canine connection that researchers speculate happened as we evolved together over million years.
The experiments also revealed a dog’s brain reacted differently when hearing different vocalizations from other dogs and humans and could distinguish happy sounds from sad sounds in both species. Having a greater response in the auditory cortex of the brain when hearing positive sounds like children’s laughter or a dog barking when their human returned home. As suspected dogs respond to how sounds are vocalized and can identify the emotion in your voice.
Researchers say they are fascinated by their findings and will conduct further studies to find out if a dog’s response to the human voice is genetic, evolutionary or conditioning and training.