Dogs have the same word skills as babies – study
Dogs have the same ability to learn languages ââas humans, according to a study.
its innate ability allows our canine companions to decipher when we pronounce certain words and allows them to learn and follow our commands.
The stroke is a form of subconscious analysis called word segmentation that human babies automatically do to type their first words.
It is about using the pitch of consecutive syllables to learn where a word begins and ends and it is the same method that allows us to listen to the fictitious dialect of Dothraki in Game Of Thrones; Klingon in Star Trek; and Sindarin, the language of the Gray Elves in the Lord of the Rings and believe that they are real languages, based on the construction of utterances.
âUntil now, we didn’t know if another mammal could also use such complex calculations to extract words from speech,â said Dr Marianna Boros from Eotvos Lorand University in Hungary, lead author of the study, published in Current biology.
âWe decided to test the brain capacities of family dogs for statistical learning to speak.
âDogs are the earliest domesticated animal species and probably the one we talk to most often. Yet we know very little about the neural processes that underlie their word learning abilities.
The team placed electrodes on the dogs’ heads and also used an MRI scanner to analyze brain activity while playing out artificially created word sentences.
âWe saw differences in the brain waves of dogs for frequent words versus rare words,â said Dr. Lilla Magyari, co-author of the article.
âIt turns out that dogs keep track of not only simple statistics (the number of times a word appears) but also complex statistics (the likelihood of a word’s syllables appearing together).
âThis has never been seen in other non-human mammals before. This is exactly the kind of complex statistics that human infants use to extract words.
Another author, Dr Attila Andics, added: âWe still don’t know how these human analog brain mechanisms for word learning emerged in dogs. Do they reflect skills that have developed living in a language-rich environment, or over thousands of years of domestication, or do they represent an ancient mammalian ability?
“By studying speech processing in dogs, we can trace the origins of human specializations for speech perception.”