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和狗狗说话的艺术

更新时间:2016-8-31 18:34:32 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

With Dogs, It’s What You Say — and How You Say It
和狗狗说话的艺术

Who’s a good dog?

乖狗狗在哪里?

Well, that depends on whom you’re asking, of course. But new research suggests that the next time you look at your pup, whether Maltese or mastiff, you might want to choose your words carefully.

当然了,答案会取决于你问的对象是谁。不过一项新研究显示,下回你对着自家小狗的时候,不论它是只玛尔济斯或是獒犬,你可能都要斟酌一下自己的用词。

“Both what we say and how we say it matters to dogs,” said Attila Andics, a research fellow at Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest.

“我们说话的内容与方式,对狗来说都有关系,”布达佩斯厄特沃什·罗兰大学(Eotvos Lorand University)的研究员阿提拉·安迪克斯(Attila Andics)说。

Dogs that were trained to enter an M.R.I. machine for the research.
研究人员训练狗狗们进入磁共振成像机,以获取研究数据。

Dr. Andics, who studies language and behavior in dogs and humans, along with Adam Miklosi and several other colleagues, reported in a paper to be published in this week’s issue of the journal Science that different parts of dogs’ brains respond to the meaning of a word, and to how the word is said, much as human brains do.

安迪克斯博士研究的是狗与人类的语言与行为,他与亚当·密克罗西(Adam Miklosi)还有几名同事在一篇报告中指出,狗脑的不同部位会对字义以及这个字的表达方式起反应,就像人脑一样。这篇报告会刊登在本周发行的新一期《科学》(Science)期刊上。

As with people’s brains, parts of dogs’ left hemisphere react to meaning and parts of the right hemisphere to intonation — the emotional content of a sound. And, perhaps most interesting to dog owners, only a word of praise said in a positive tone really made the reward system of a dog’s brain light up.

就像人脑一样,狗的左半脑的某些部位会对字义起反应、右半脑的另些部位则会对语气起反应,也就是声音里的情绪成分。而对养狗的人来说,最有趣的地方或许在于,只有用积极语气说出来的赞美,才能让狗脑的报偿系统活跃起来。

The experiment itself was something of an achievement. Dr. Andics and his colleagues trained dogs to enter a magnetic resonance imaging machine and lie in a harness while the machine recorded their brain activity.

这个实验本身就很不简单。安迪克斯博士与同事教会狗进入一个磁共振成像机,戴着挽具躺下,好让机器记录这些狗的脑部活动。

A trainer spoke words in Hungarian — common words of praise used by dog owners like “good boy,” “super” and “well done.” The trainer also tried neutral words like “however” and “nevertheless.” Both the praise words and neutral words were offered in positive and neutral tones.

一名训练员用匈牙利语对这些狗说些主人常用来称赞它们的词汇,像是“好孩子”、“好棒”、“做得好”之类的。训练员也会说一些中性词汇,像是“不过”、“然而”等等。这些赞美或中性的词汇都会用积极与平淡的语气各说几次。

The positive words spoken in a positive tone prompted strong activity in the brain’s reward centers. All the other conditions resulted in significantly less action, and all at the same level.

用积极语气说出的赞词,会引发狗脑报偿中心的强烈反应。其他语气与词汇组合所引发的反应则显著较少,反应程度相同。

In other words, “good boy” said in a neutral tone and “however” said in a positive or neutral tone all got the same response.

也就是说,用平淡语气说出的“好孩子”,和用积极语气说出的“不过”,所引发的反应是一样的。

What does it all mean? For dog owners, Dr. Andics said, the findings mean that the dogs are paying attention to meaning, and that you should, too.

这代表什么意思呢?安迪克斯说,对主人来说,这些发现意味着狗也会注意话语的意义,所以主人也应该注意。

That doesn’t mean a dog won’t wag its tail and look happy when you say, “You stinky mess” in a happy voice. But the dog is looking at your body language and your eyes, and perhaps starting to infer that “stinky mess” is a word of praise.

不过,这不意味着如果你用快乐的语气对狗说“你这邋遢的臭家伙”,它就不会高兴地摇尾巴。狗其实会观察你的肢体语言和眼神,而且它或许就会推断“邋遢的臭家伙”是一句赞美的话。

In terms of evolution of language, the results suggest that the capacity to process meaning and emotion in different parts of the brain and tie them together is not uniquely human. This ability had already evolved in non-primates long before humans began to talk.

从语言演化的角度来看,这些研究结果显示,大脑通过不同部位处理语义与情绪、并将二者联系起来的能力并非人类所特有。这种能力早在人类开始说话之前,就在非灵长类动物身上发展出来了。

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