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Sometimes I call my dog's name when he's hanging out on the couch or nearby in the yard and he doesn't even turn his head. I'm not sure if he doesn't hear me, isn't listening or is just being ... well, my dog.



It turns out that dogs truly have no problem picking their names out, even in a noisy environment. It's called "the cocktail party effect" and they're good at it.


Imagine you're in a noisy room and people are chattering all around you. You pretty much ignore the mindless babble and start drifting away until you hear your name. Your ears (figuratively) perk up.


Dogs are the same way. So found a new study published in the journal Animal Cognition.


Researchers at the University of Maryland had human and canine volunteers sit in a booth between two speakers. Scientists played a recording of either the dog's name or another name with the same number of syllables and similar stress pattern. (Like "Henry" and "Sasha.") The recordings had three levels of background noise that increasingly got louder.

马里兰大学学院市分校的研究人员让实验者和实验犬坐在两个讲话者之间的一个摊位上。 接着,研究人员播放了一段录音,录音内容包括狗的名字或者另外一个有着相同音节数和相似重音模式的名字(比如“Henry”和“Sasha”)。 这些录音有多达三个层次的背景噪音,并且层次越高,噪音越大。

The dogs turned toward the speaker when they heard their names. It was only at the third level, when the background noise was louder than their name, that they didn't respond.


By contrast, adults were able to pick out their names no matter how loud the background. Babies, however, could only recognize their names at the lowest level.


"Dogs are social creatures who pay attention to the adults around them and have evolved to do so," said co-author Rochelle Newman, professor and chair of the University of Maryland Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences, to Maryland Today. "In some sense, they are a really good comparison to infants."

狗是社会性动物,它们会关注周围的成年人,并且已经慢慢进化到可以这样做了,”合著者Rochelle Newman说。他是马里兰大学学院市分校听力和言语科学系的教授和主席。“从某种意义上说,它们的确与婴儿有得一比。”

For the study, researchers used pet dogs, as well as service and working dogs. Interestingly, service and working dogs performed better than garden-variety pets.


This is probably because those dogs have more training and also because handlers tend to use their proper names more consistently instead of nicknames, researchers told National Geographic. So they're used to responding only to their names versus the cute monikers we tend to call our pets.


Researchers were able to conclude several things from the study.


First, they said, infants likely struggled in the loud environment due to where they are in their development, not because of a lack of language skills. After all, they said, "Dogs don't have language either and are doing better."


They also had advice for people who work with their dogs. It's simple, but it makes sense. If you're in a loud situation, you probably have to raise your voice or move closer to your four-legged companion if surrounding noise makes it hard to be heard. They point out this is especially key if you're dealing with a service or working dog.


And for those of us exasperated when our dogs seem to ignore our calls, co-author and doctoral student Amritha Mallikarjun tells NatGeo:"Dog owners shouldn't be frustrated if their dog doesn't respond to his or her name in a noisy environment like busy city streets or crowded parks," she says. "Your dog isn't being stubborn — he actually might not be able to understand you."

合著者Amritha Mallikarjun告诉NatGeo:“对于一些人来说,当狗狗忽略我们的叫唤时,我们会感到非常愤怒。但如果狗主人在嘈杂的环境中叫唤狗狗,比如繁忙的城市街道或拥挤的公园,狗没有反应,他们也不应该感到沮丧。你的狗狗并不是故意不理你,它可能是真的听不懂你的话。”

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