The use of the MRI has provided many scientific breakthroughs in the study of the brain of the dog.
Once again science is backing up what dog owners have always known. Dogs know what we are saying to them.
Researchers in Hungary scanned the brains of dogs while their owners were talking to them. They found the dog brain processed words with the left hemisphere and intonation was processed with the right hemisphere just like humans do.
Dogs understood they were being praised only if the words and intonation were positive. Meaningless words spoken in an encouraging voice, or meaningful words in a neutral tone, didn't have the same effect.
"Dog brains care about both what we say and how we say it," said lead researcher Attila Andics, a neuroscientist at Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest. "Praise can work as a reward only if both word meaning and intonation match."
Andics said the findings suggest that the mental ability to process language evolved earlier than previously believed and that what sets humans apart from other species is the invention of words.
"The neural capacities to process words that were thought by many to be uniquely human are actually shared with other species," he said. "This suggests that the big change that made humans able to start using words was not a big change in neural capacity."
While other species may have the mental capacity to understand human speech like dogs do, they lack the interest and motivation to do so. Dogs have socialized with humans for thousands of years and are attentive to what we say to them. Source.