Supplementary material from "Event-related potentials reveal limited readiness to access phonetic details during word processing in dogs"

Posted on 2020-11-27 - 07:33
While dogs have remarkable abilities for social cognition and communication, the number of words they learn to recognize typically remains very low. The reason for this limited capacity is still unclear. We hypothesized that despite their human-like auditory abilities for analysing speech sounds, their word processing capacities might be less ready to access phonetic details. To test this, we developed procedures for non-invasive measurement of event-related potentials (ERPs) for language stimuli in awake dogs (N = 17). Dogs listened to familiar instruction words and phonetically similar and dissimilar nonsense words. We compared two different artefact cleaning procedures on the same data; they led to similar results. An early (200–300 ms; only after one of the cleaning procedures) and a late (650–800 ms; after both cleaning procedures) difference was present in the ERPs for known versus phonetically dissimilar nonsense words. There were no differences between the ERPs for known versus phonetically similar nonsense words. ERPs of dogs who heard the instructions more often also showed larger differences between instructions and dissimilar nonsense words. The study revealed not only dogs' sensitivity to known words, but also their limited capacity to access phonetic details. Future work should confirm the reported ERP correlates of word processing abilities in dogs.


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