New study shows dogs understand the meaning of words

Published: Aug. 31, 2016 at 2:57 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 31, 2016 at 8:10 PM CDT
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WSFA/NBC - Have you ever had a dog look deeply into your eyes like they're hanging on to every word you say? Now there's scientific proof our pooches can actually understand meaning behind human language.

Dogs have many ways of telling us how they're feeling: from happy, to not so happy, maybe even a little embarrassed sometimes.

Researchers in Hungary trained dogs to sit very still in a functional MRI scanner. Trainers then spoke words both familiar and unfamiliar to the dogs in various ways.

In a sing-song "good boy" voice then in a neutral tone: "good boy."

Brain scans showed the dogs processed those familiar words correctly, regardless of tone and how they sounded, meaning they understood the meaning of the words. How do they do it? The theory is that dogs start to understand that the words "good boy" are a good thing when they're said in a positive
tone.

So even if our furry friends sometimes have selective hearing: "sit down.... hey! sit!" Eventually, they figure it out.

While dogs process words in much the same way as humans do, researchers say we're unique in our ability to use them.

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