language

When you praise a dog, it's listening not just to the words you say but also how you say them.

That might not be huge news to dog owners. But now scientists have explored this phenomenon by using an imaging machine to peek inside the brains of 13 dogs as they listened to their trainer's voice.

Computer programs often reflect the biases of their very human creators. That's been well established.

The question now is: How can we fix that problem?

TheGiantVermin / Flickr

A team led by Professor Christine Moon of Pacific Lutheran University, tested newborn babies in Tacoma and Stockholm, Sweden. Moon said they played recordings of a distinctly American English vowel sound and a Swedish one, and tested the babies responses by measuring the one thing a day-old baby is really good at: sucking on a pacifier. Their sucking patterns reveal that babies show a familiarity with the vowel sounds of their mother tongue even at birth, suggesting they’ve been listening carefully in utero.