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Babies Can Comprehend 'Canine' Language
Date:7/24/2009

ore time looking at the wrong dog picture or looked equally at both, Flom said.

Older babies -- at 12, 18 and 24 months -- were likely to look at the correct dog, but for just a flicker of time, Flom said, and then look around the room or equally between the video stills.

While some have interpreted this to mean they can't distinguish the correct picture, Flom said it's actually a sign that "the task is almost too easy for them."

The study didn't examine what the babies actually perceived about the barks and the canine expressions. No one knows if they're aware that a normal-looking dog is a better prospect for playtime than one that looks -- and sounds -- like it wants to take a bite out of the nearest leg.

Still, it's "remarkable" that babies that aren't exposed to dogs can figure out how to link their barks to their faces, Flom said. That means they can connect audio and visual cues, he said.

As for the future, researchers are exploring how humans relate to dogs, which have a long history of interacting with people, and wolves, which don't.

Over time, Flom said, dogs and humans have learned how to communicate with each other.

And, of course, each gets what they want from the other, whether it be the newspaper or a long back scratch.

More information

Learn more about the brain's development from the University of Washington.



SOURCES: Ross Flom, Ph.D., associate professor, psychology and neuroscience, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah; July 2009 Developmental Psychology


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