Conclusion: dogs process human speech like babies. This is a complicated topic judging by the language used by the scientists who did the testing which is why I am thankful for the video. The research concerns dogs. This is because it is convenient to do animal research using the more cooperative dog compared to cats. I would argue and hope that the research applies equally (or at least to a large extent) to cats which is why the article is on PoC.
THERE ARE MORE PAGES ON COMMUNICATING WITH CATS AT THE BASE OF THE PAGE
All of us have spoken to our cat and dog companions as children. It is probably fair to describe the human to cat or dog relationship as one of adult to child. Unwittingly, this is not entirely irrational as the researchers found that dogs have the same ability to distinguish words as babies.
They looked at how dogs process human speech. Can dogs distinguish individual words in a long sentence? Babies become aware of the way certain syllables frequently go together.
The Times journalist, Rhys Blakely, describes the process as follows (in my words). The child’s brain rationalises that the phrase ‘scary dragon’ is made up of two words. The first words sound like ‘scar’ and ‘y’ and the second ‘drag’ and ‘on’. The brain learns that the sounds ‘scar’ and ‘y’ go together to form one word. The same applies to the word dragon.
They say that babies are able to do this at 8-months-of-age although they don’t understand the words.
The researchers found that when dogs listened to recorded human speech their brain activity indicated that they processed the sounds like human babies.
“The complex computations and the specific brain regions that dogs and humans use to discover words are surprisingly similar – Dr Marianne Boros of Eotovos Lorand University in Budapest.
Her colleague said that dogs seemed to be subconsciously using “exactly the kind of complex statistics human infants use to extract words from continuous speech”.
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