Beyond ‘sit’ and ‘fetch’, dogs can understand multiple words – Times of India


NEW DELHI: Dogs have the ability to understand certain words, as revealed by researchers who observed the brain activity of dogs as they interacted with familiar objects like balls, slippers, and leashes.
This finding indicates that dogs can comprehend nouns beyond basic commands like ‘sit’ and ‘fetch’. However, there has been limited insight into how dogs process words in their brains.
Marianna Boros from Eötvös Loránd University in Hungary stated, ‘I think the capacity is there in all dogs.This changes our understanding of language evolution and our sense of what is uniquely human.’
Scientists have been intrigued by a survey indicating that dog owners believe their pets respond to a significant number of words.
In 2011, a border collie named Chaser impressed researchers by learning the names of over 1,000 objects.
To explore this mystery, Boros and her team conducted experiments where dog owners brought their pets to the lab with familiar objects such as balls, slippers, and rubber toys. Owners were asked to say words for objects before showing the corresponding or different items to their dogs.
The dogs’ brain activity was monitored using EEG, revealing distinct patterns when the objects matched or did not match the words spoken by their owners.
The study, published in Current Biology, provides the first neural evidence of object word knowledge in non-human animals.
However, Boros clarified that further research is needed to determine their ability to generalize word meanings.
Dr Holly Root-Gutteridge from the University of Lincoln, who was not a part of team, suggested that the understanding of nouns by dogs might be widespread among mammals.
The research also raises questions about why some dogs may not demonstrate their understanding of certain nouns, speculating that dogs may know the meaning of a word but choose not to act on it.


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