• ICofA

Can dogs understand us?

Updated: Dec 9, 2021

Magdalena Nawarecka

November 3, 2021

Wow! Recently a fascinating study about dogs’ cognitive skills was published, have you seen it? For me, it is so interesting to learn more and more about dogs’ brains, new possibilities of communication and understanding between humans and dogs.

In the summary, we can read that:

To learn words, humans extract statistical regularities from speech. Multiple species use statistical learning also to process speech, but the neural underpinnings of speech segmentation in non-humans remain largely unknown. Here, we investigated computational and neural markers of speech segmentation in dogs, a phylogenetically distant mammal that efficiently navigates humans’ social and linguistic environment. Using electroencephalography (EEG), we compared event-related responses (ERPs) for artificial words previously presented in a continuous speech stream with different distributional statistics. Results revealed an early effect (220–470 ms) of transitional probability and a late component (590–790 ms) modulated by both word frequency and transitional probability. Using fMRI, we searched for brain regions sensitive to statistical regularities in speech. Structured speech elicited lower activity in the basal ganglia, a region involved in sequence learning, and repetition enhancement in the auditory cortex. Speech segmentation in dogs, similar to that of humans, involves complex computations, engaging both domain-general and modality-specific brain areas.

To learn more you can also watch the video below, or read the whole paper in Current biology