After moving from Mexico to Hungary, neurobiologist Laura V. Cuaya had to get used to hearing Hungarian instead of Spanish. But she wasn’t the only one who moved: Her dog, Kun-Kun, moved with her. Cuaya wondered whether her dog could tell that people were suddenly speaking a different language. She decided to turn her question into research!
Cuaya and her team trained 18 dogs to lie in a brain scanner while listening to excerpts of The Little Prince in Spanish and Hungarian, as well as the occasional nonsense sounds. Cuaya found that the two languages triggered different activity in the dogs’ brains, showing they could differentiate between them. They could also tell the difference between words in either language and the nonsense sounds.