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Scientists discover that dogs can distinguish between different languages: what the study showed

Olena RasenkoNews
Older dogs do it better than younger ones

Dogs can recognize the difference between speech and gibberish and even distinguish between familiar and unfamiliar languages. This ability only grows with the age.

According to the Daily mail, citing a study by scientists from the Eötvös Loránd University (Hungary), dogs respond to familiar and unfamiliar speech in different parts of the brain. And while the familiar language is perceived by the auditory cortex, the secondary auditory cortex is responsible for the perception of unfamiliar speech.

The scientists made their conclusions based on a study of the brains of eighteen dogs that were given excerpts from books in Hungarian and Spanish, as well as gibberish in them.

One of the authors of the study, Mexican Laura Cuaya, explained that she moved from her home country to Hungary a few years ago for work. She decided to take her dog Kun-kun with her.

"I used to speak only Spanish with my dog. So I was wondering if Kun-kun had noticed that people in Budapest spoke another language. This was the reason for the study," Cuaya said.

To find out how well dogs can distinguish between languages, experts scanned the animals' brains using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). At this time, the dogs were played excerpts from the 1943 children's book The Little Prince, written in both Hungarian and Spanish. They were also played "encrypted versions of these passages that sounded completely unnatural to see if the dogs could detect the difference between language and non-language."

The researchers found that the brain activity of dogs while listening to gibberish manifests itself differently, regardless of whether it was said in a familiar language or not.

"The dog brain, like the human brain, can distinguish between language and non-language. However, the mechanism is somewhat different than in humans," the study says.

The team also found that dogs can distinguish between familiar and foreign languages, and older dogs do it better than younger ones.

"Our results show that dogs pick up auditory patterns in the language they encounter while living with people," Cuaya said.

She emphasized that this study is the first to show that the non-human brain can distinguish between two languages.

Scientists have suggested that perhaps the dogs' ability to distinguish between languages was acquired in the course of evolution, during the time when humans and dogs lived together. The experts intend to continue the research.

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