It doesn’t take a scientific study for dog owners to believe that their pets know what they’re saying. (We cat owners are a little less certain.)
But it’s not always clear exactly what Fido is paying attention to.
When we say “Good dog!” dogs hear both the words we say and how we say them, new brain scans show. For people, both the word and intonation are important, but no one knew—until now—whether that was also the case for dogs. (See “Dogs Are Even More Like Us Than We Thought.”)
In a study published August 29 in Science, scientists found the canine brain also processes the information in a similar way as humans.
“I’m quite excited by this finding. It’s really exciting to see such close correspondence between brain activity in humans and dogs,” said Chris Petkov, a neuropsychologist at the U.K.’s University of Newcastle who was not involved in the study.
Dog Brains Are a Lot Like Ours
The first step was not an easy one: Training dogs to remain absolutely still in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner. It took several months for dog trainers to work their magic on 13 pet dogs that live in Hungary, including six border collies, four golden retrievers, one German shepherd, and one Chinese crested.
“The hardest part was getting them to understand that they needed to lie absolutely still. Once they realized that we meant completely still, it worked out great,” says Andics, an ethologist at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, Hungary. (See “Can Dogs Feel Our Emotions? Yawn Study Suggests Yes.”)
In 2014, Andics and colleagues showed how the brains of the same 13 dogs respond to various vocalizations, like grunts, barks, whines, and shouts, from both people and other dogs. Happy and fearful sounds activated similar brain areas in both species, their study found.
‘That’s a Good Dog’
So with the same group of 13 dogs, Andics and colleagues played recordings of their owners talking in four different ways: A praising word (such as the Hungarian word for “clever” or “that’s it”) in a praising tone, a neutral word in a neutral tone, a praising word in a neutral tone, and a neutral word in a praising tone.
His neuroimaging results showed that the left hemisphere of the dogs’ brains responded to the word itself, and that their right hemisphere responded to intonation. (See “5 Amazing Stories of Devoted Dogs.”)
However, it took both a praise word and a praising tone to activate the dog’s reward center. In other words, your pet knows when you’re praising them and you actually mean it.
“For some dogs, praise might be enough to get them to do what you want. In this study, we treated our dogs like happy volunteers who wanted to please us,” Andics said.
The key to good dog behavior, then, is letting your pet know that they really are a good dog.
Lest we forget, we are the survivors.
We did not die horribly that sad September day.
This song celebrates us, the survivors, while remembering
those who perished in such a horrid manner.
WE THE LIVING (words and music by Kenneth Harper Finton) © 2007 HT MUSIC
On a clear September morning, it happened without warning:
two flights left from Boston to Los Angeles on time,
It was so unexpected; both planes were redirected.
The skyjackers had gained control; death was their unspoken goal.
The passengers would never know … never would know why.
So here’s to the living, for the dead will never know.
We, we the living, are left to choose the road.
And here’s to the safety of the world they left behind …
and here’s to the making of a better world in time.
In that most fatal hour, both planes hit the twin towers,
Where fifty thousand…
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The presidential nominees joined NBC’s Matt Lauer to answer questions from veterans and discuss her plans for the U.S. Hillary Clinton went first and Donald Trump followed her. Each candidate had 30 minutes.
Look around you. What do you see?
Other people going about their business? Rooms with tables and chairs? Nature with its sky, grass and trees?
All that stuff, it’s really there, right? Even if you were to disappear right now — poof! — the rest of the world would still exist in all forms you’re seeing now, right? Or would it?
Cognitive scientist Donald Hoffman is trying to answer a big question: Do we experience the world as it really is … or as we need it to be? In this ever so slightly mind-blowing talk, he ponders how our minds construct reality for us. TEDTalks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less). Look for talks on Technology, Entertainment and Design — plus science, business, global issues, the arts and much more. Find closed captions and translated subtitles in many languages at http://www.ted.com/talks/donald_hoffm…
It was on this day in 1927 that the first successful television image was demonstrated, by the inventor Philo T. Farnsworth. Farnsworth was a Mormon farm boy from Utah, and he grew up in a log cabin. When the family moved to a house in Idaho, Farnsworth was amazed that the house had electricity – he had never seen it before.
Farnsworth was a star science student. At the age of 13, he won a national competition for inventing a thief-proof lock. He was particularly fascinated by something called television. The basic premise of television existed, but the only technology used rotating discs, and it was basically a failure. Farnsworth was convinced that there was a better way. One day, when he was 14, he was plowing the family potato field with a team of horses. He looked back at his parallel lines of soil and was struck with an inspiration: What if he could scan an image in a similar way, with parallel lines of electrons, and reproduce it electronically? He approached his high school chemistry teacher with a set of complex drawings, his blueprint for electronic television. The teacher encouraged Farnsworth to pursue his idea, and filed away his student’s drawings.
Farnsworth finished high school in a couple of years, then started college at Brigham Young University. But after his father died, he dropped out to support his family. He couldn’t shake his television idea, so a few years later, the 19-year-old inventor approached two California businessmen and convinced them to lend him money to build a model. He moved to California, submitted a patent in January of 1927, and began building that summer.
On this day in 1927, he transmitted the first electronic television image: a straight line. When the line appeared on a separate receiver, his assistants just stared at it, speechless. Finally, Farnsworth announced: “There you are – electronic television!”
He continued to refine his technology. But he was not the only inventor who had been working on electronic television, and the powerful RCA (Radio Corp of America) tried to claim that its own chief engineer, a Russian-born scientist with a Ph.D., had invented it. The patent battle lasted many years, and the key piece of evidence to determine who had invented the television first turned out to be the teenage Farnsworth’s old sketches, which had been kept all that time by his high school chemistry teacher. The court sided with Farnsworth, but even though he had legally won, RCA’s publicity totally overshadowed his, and he never made much money on his patents. He was actually ambivalent about television, which he thought was generally a waste of time.
Farnsworth died of pneumonia in 1971. His final years had been marred by alcohol abuse and debt, and he died virtually unknown. The average television set sold that same year included about 100 items that had been first patented by Farnsworth.
-THE WRITER’S ALMANAC FOR 9/7/2016