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Border collie comprehends over 1,000 object names
Date:1/6/2011

Spartanburg, S.C., USA, 6 January, 2010 Researchers at Wofford College discovered that a Border Collie comprehends the names of over 1000 objects, differentiating between names of objects and orders to fetch them. This research deepens the findings of researchers in Germany, who had discovered a dog that knew the names of a couple of hundred objects. Important questions were left open as to how far a dog could go, and whether the dog really understood that the object names were nouns and not commands to retrieve the object.

John Pilley and Alliston Reid answered two central questions with their research: How large can a dog's vocabulary become if given extensive training? What do dogs actually understand when we use human language to communicate with them? These findings are published in the Elsevier journal Behavioural Processes .

The authors demonstrated that their dog, Chaser, learned the names of 1022 objects - no upper limit is apparent - they stopped training the dog after three years due to their time constraints, not because the dog could not learn more names. This study demonstrates Chaser's ability to learn the names of proper nouns, and her extensive vocabulary was tested repeatedly under carefully controlled conditions. The authors admitted that she remembered the names of each of her 1022 toys better than they could. Chaser's ability to learn and remember more than 1000 proper nouns, each mapped to a unique object, revealed clear evidence of several capacities necessary for learning receptive human language: the ability to discriminate between 1022 different sounds representing names of objects, the ability to discriminate many objects visually, an extensive vocabulary, and a substantial memory system that allowed the mapping of many auditory stimuli to many visual stimuli.

Their second experiment demonstrated that Chaser really understands that these are names, and not commands to fetch the object. In order to
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Contact: Francesca Webb
f.webb@elsevier.com
44-186-584-3244
Elsevier
Source:Eurekalert

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