Practice English everyday with VOA Special English

Friday, April 25, 2014 | Latest audio lessons → VOA Learning English

Dogs Understand How You Feel

From VOA Learning English, this is the Technology Report.

Researchers in Hungary have now confirmed what many dog owners already knew: dogs or canines, can understand our feelings. Scientists used a magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, to learn about dog emotions. The research showed that they are similar to the emotions of human beings. An MRI uses magnetic fields to produce images of the inside of the body. MRIs are painless, and do not require the patient to be cut open. However, the patient must remain still. And the patient must be awake to record brain activity.

In the past, dogs have not being good MRI patients. They are not usually calm in a laboratory. But researchers at Hungary's ELTE University petted the animals and gave them food treats. As a result, the scientists were able to capture images of the dogs' brains.

Researchers trained 11 dogs to stay completely still while images were taken of their brains. The researchers tested the dogs' reactions to about 200 emotional sounds, including crying, playful barking and laughing. Then they compared the dog reactions with reactions from humans.

The researchers discovered that the reactions were similar. This findings are not just important to dogs and the people who love them. The researchers say this study establishes a new kind of comparative brain science. They says it was not possible to measure the brain activity of a non-primate and a primate in a single experiment until now. The Hungarian scientists say the study has a message for ordinary dog owners too, treat your dogs as real friends. Now, there is scientific proof that they do, in fact, understand what you are feeling.

For VOA Learning English, I'm Alex Villarreal.