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Ay, Dios Mío! Study reveals dogs can distinguish between Spanish and Hungarian

This might sound barking mad to some, but researchers in Hungary have found that dogs can distinguish between languages.

Researchers made their discovery after examining the brains of a group of 18 canines whom they played excerpts from the story “The Little Prince” to in Spanish and Hungarian.

Laura V. Cuaya led the study at Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest. She had moved there from Mexico a few years ago along with her precious pet dog Kun-kun.

“I wondered whether Kun-kun noticed that people in Budapest spoke a different language, Hungarian,” she said.

“(In the research) we found for the first time that a non-human brain can distinguish (between) languages.”

Co-author of the study Raul Hernandez-Perez said that while living and interacting with humans, dogs pick up on the auditory patterns of the language they are exposed to.

The group of dogs under study, including Kun-kun, were trained to lie down motionless while their brains were scanned inside a machine for several minutes.

Inside the machine, every dog listened to the story in either Hungarian or Spanish from their owner. This allowed researchers to compare the way each dog’s brain reacted to the language they’re highly familiar with and the one they aren’t.

All dogs then listened to scrambled versions of the excerpts in both languages to see whether they could detect speech and non-speech.

When comparing brain responses, researchers found “distinct activity patterns in dogs’ primary auditory cortex of the brain, indicating that they can distinguish between speech and non-speech,” reported Reuters.

The dogs’ secondary auditory cortex, which analyses complex sounds, produced two different patterns when listening to a familiar language and an unfamiliar language.

The older the dogs were, the better they distinguished between Spanish and Hungarian.