What if your dog could understand your emotions?

When your dog hears the sound of your voice, he recognizes you. There’s no doubt about that. Occasionally, you may speak to your dog, though you are aware that he doesn’t understand what you’re saying. This is now partly contested. It would seem that dogs are able to recognize the type of emotion conveyed by the voice. The expression “Dogs are Man’s best friend” makes total sense.

The study carried out in Hungary by the researcher Attila Andics was not easy. The first stage was to train the 11 dogs taking part in the study to remain still in the MRI machine while wearing headphones. The aim was to study the areas of their brain sensitive to the human voice. To do this, the technique chosen was to place the dog so that he could see his owner while in the machine.

Once this stage had been perfected, the dogs’ brain activity was recorded while they listened to a series of 200 sounds of dogs and human beings, including groaning and crying (for negative emotions) as well as sounds of a dog barking while playing and laughter (for positive emotions). Finally, another series of sounds refering to environmental sounds, such as the sound of an engine, was played to them. The scientists also studied the brain of 22 people who had listened to the same sounds.

The results showed that dogs process voices the same way as people, because, according to the MRI mappings, the same areas of the brain were activated in both species when listening to negative and positive emotions. What’s more, the researchers revealed an area located near the primary auditory cortex which was activated when people and dogs listened to “happy” sounds, but not when the participants heard “sad” sounds.
The similarities appear to explain why communication between humans and dogs is so effective.

There are, however, some differences. In dogs, 48 % of the brain areas sensitive to sound are activated when listening to environmental sounds, while in humans, the percentage was only 3 %. “It shows how very strongly attuned the human auditory cortex is to vocal sounds,” explains Andics. “In dogs, it's more heterogeneous”.
Source: Attila Andics et al. Voice-Sensitive Regions in the Dog and Human Brain Are Revealed by Comparative fMRI. Current Biology, Volume 24, Issue 5, 574-578. February 20, 2014. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2014.01.058


Please type in your email address below:

LoadingPlease wait... Loading...
Close Log in
Password forgotten

Please enter the email address you are using with HAPPYneuron.
Instructions to reset your password will be sent to this email address.

LoadingSaving data...
Log in

It seems that you have forgotten your password. What do you wish to do?

Free Registration

Try the HAPPYneuron program for free for 7 days.

Type the characters you see in the picture below.

Reload security image
Captcha image
By clicking "Get Started" below you agree to HAPPYneuron's terms of use.
Terms of Use
Subscribe to our newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter

Get the latest information and news about the brain and our special offers twice a month for free.