Dogs are able to tune out background noise and focus in on their names according to new research
Just like humans, dogs are surprisingly adept at picking out their own name in a noisy room, says new research with implications on how working canines respond in moments of crisis.
The study, done by researchers at the University of Maryland, analyses what is known as the ‘the cocktail party effect.’ This phenomenon, which is also observed in humans, involves the ability of the brain to effectively turn down the volume in a crowded room, singling out only the noises deemed important.
The researchers found that dogs were able to mimic this cocktail effect, discerning their own names when spoken at the same volume or louder than noise emanating from the background. Scientists say the results held true even when the dogs’ names were spoken through a loudspeaker, ruling out the possibility that the dogs were responding to body language and not verbal cues.
Dogs were able to mimic this cocktail effect, discerning their own names when spoken at the same volume or louder than noise emanating from the background
To study the animals’ abilities, researchers gathered various breeds of dogs - pets and working dogs - and placed each dog with its owner in a room containing two loudspeakers on opposite sides. The researchers then alternated playing recordings of the dogs named spoken by a person unknown to the animal between speakers.
When the dog turned its head toward the speaker, researchers counted that action as acknowledging its name. Scientists then added background noise in ascending volumes to test whether or not the dogs continued to react.What researchers found was that the animals were able to discern their names at two levels of increased background noise.