Purpose of this Blog

I'm an investigator with Inspired Ghost Tracking and a developing medium. Inspired uses scientific equipment to find proof of ghosts or spirits. Since I was a child I could receive messages from ghosts or spirits (who have crossed over). I wrote "Pets and the Afterlife," "Ghosts and Spirits" and "Lessons Learned from Talking to the Dead" to teach others how Ghosts and Spirits communicate and to give hope about the afterlife. I also provide some scientific explanations about how they do it. I'm not a medium who makes appointments - I'm not as well-developed in my abilities as learned mediums. I'm more of a "medium rare." I just hope you find comfort in these explanations based on my experiences.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

What is the Hungry Ghost Festival?


I came across an interesting festival celebrated in China, that acknowledges ghosts and spirits: It's called the Hungry Ghost Festival

According to Chinatoursandfestivals.com: "With roots in Buddhism, the Hungry Ghost Festival is a time of honoring ancestors and appeasing the ’hungry’ ghosts that wander the world of the living when the ‘Gates of Hell’ are opened once a year."

The Ghost Festival, also known as the Hungry Ghost Festival in modern day, Zhong

Yuan Jie or Yu Lan Jie (traditional Chinese: 盂蘭節) is a traditional Buddhist and Taoist festival held in Asian countries.


It is believed that these Gates of Hell are opened once a year during the Hungry Ghost Month and all the lost and hungry ghosts of hell are free to roam the living world. To appease these lost souls and to prevent them from causing the living harm, people put food out for the ghosts to enjoy. Elaborate ceremonies and rituals are also performed to please the ghosts. 

According to "DiscoverHongKong.com"- one of the main highlights is the Chinese operas, usually help on temporary bamboo stages and performed to praise the charitable and pious deeds of the deities. 
 
Activities such as swimming and travelling are avoided as it is considered dangerous in case a wayward ghost were to cause an accident. Likewise, getting married or moving house is avoided during this period as it is considered bad luck."


When is the Hungry Ghost Festival in  2015, 2016, 2017?
2015   - 28 August
2016   - 17 August
2017 -   4 September  


With roots in Buddhism, the Hungry Ghost Festival is a time of honouring ancestors and appeasing the ’hungry’ ghosts that wander the world of the living when the ‘Gates of Hell’ are opened once a year.

It is believed that these Gates of Hell are opened once a year during the Hungry Ghost Month and all the lost and hungry ghosts of hell are free to roam the living world. To appease these lost souls and to prevent them from causing the living harm, people put food out for the ghosts to enjoy. Elaborate ceremonies and rituals are also performed to please the ghosts.
Activities such as swimming and travelling are avoided as it is considered dangerous in case a wayward ghost were to cause an accident. Likewise, getting married or moving house is avoided during this period as it is considered bad luck.
- See more at: http://chinatoursandholidays.com/hungry-ghost-festival#sthash.EuyO1uxc.dpuf

With roots in Buddhism, the Hungry Ghost Festival is a time of honouring ancestors and appeasing the ’hungry’ ghosts that wander the world of the living when the ‘Gates of Hell’ are opened once a year.

It is believed that these Gates of Hell are opened once a year during the Hungry Ghost Month and all the lost and hungry ghosts of hell are free to roam the living world. To appease these lost souls and to prevent them from causing the living harm, people put food out for the ghosts to enjoy. Elaborate ceremonies and rituals are also performed to please the ghosts.
Activities such as swimming and travelling are avoided as it is considered dangerous in case a wayward ghost were to cause an accident. Likewise, getting married or moving house is avoided during this period as it is considered bad luck.
- See more at: http://chinatoursandholidays.com/hungry-ghost-festival#sthash.EuyO1uxc.dpuf

With roots in Buddhism, the Hungry Ghost Festival is a time of honouring ancestors and appeasing the ’hungry’ ghosts that wander the world of the living when the ‘Gates of Hell’ are opened once a year.

It is believed that these Gates of Hell are opened once a year during the Hungry Ghost Month and all the lost and hungry ghosts of hell are free to roam the living world. To appease these lost souls and to prevent them from causing the living harm, people put food out for the ghosts to enjoy. Elaborate ceremonies and rituals are also performed to please the ghosts.
Activities such as swimming and travelling are avoided as it is considered dangerous in case a wayward ghost were to cause an accident. Likewise, getting married or moving house is avoided during this period as it is considered bad luck.
When is the Hungry Ghost Festival in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017?
- See more at: http://chinatoursandholidays.com/hungry-ghost-festival#sthash.EuyO1uxc.dpuf

With roots in Buddhism, the Hungry Ghost Festival is a time of honouring ancestors and appeasing the ’hungry’ ghosts that wander the world of the living when the ‘Gates of Hell’ are opened once a year.

It is believed that these Gates of Hell are opened once a year during the Hungry Ghost Month and all the lost and hungry ghosts of hell are free to roam the living world. To appease these lost souls and to prevent them from causing the living harm, people put food out for the ghosts to enjoy. Elaborate ceremonies and rituals are also performed to please the ghosts.
Activities such as swimming and travelling are avoided as it is considered dangerous in case a wayward ghost were to cause an accident. Likewise, getting married or moving house is avoided during this period as it is considered bad luck.
When is the Hungry Ghost Festival in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017?
- See more at: http://chinatoursandholidays.com/hungry-ghost-festival#sthash.EuyO1uxc.dpuf

With roots in Buddhism, the Hungry Ghost Festival is a time of honouring ancestors and appeasing the ’hungry’ ghosts that wander the world of the living when the ‘Gates of Hell’ are opened once a year.

It is believed that these Gates of Hell are opened once a year during the Hungry Ghost Month and all the lost and hungry ghosts of hell are free to roam the living world. To appease these lost souls and to prevent them from causing the living harm, people put food out for the ghosts to enjoy. Elaborate ceremonies and rituals are also performed to please the ghosts.
Activities such as swimming and travelling are avoided as it is considered dangerous in case a wayward ghost were to cause an accident. Likewise, getting married or moving house is avoided during this period as it is considered bad luck.
When is the Hungry Ghost Festival in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017?
Year 20132014201520162017
Date21 August10 August28 August17 August4 September
- See more at: http://chinatoursandholidays.com/hungry-ghost-festival#sthash.EuyO1uxc.dpuf

Hungry Ghost Festival




Questions?

(+86) 010-84004760

“The best travel experience I've had so far! The guide was very knowledgeable about the destinations and provided us with the best service we could have hoped for. We're already considering our next trip to the South of China!”
C. Hansen



Follow us






With roots in Buddhism, the Hungry Ghost Festival is a time of honouring ancestors and appeasing the ’hungry’ ghosts that wander the world of the living when the ‘Gates of Hell’ are opened once a year.

It is believed that these Gates of Hell are opened once a year during the Hungry Ghost Month and all the lost and hungry ghosts of hell are free to roam the living world. To appease these lost souls and to prevent them from causing the living harm, people put food out for the ghosts to enjoy. Elaborate ceremonies and rituals are also performed to please the ghosts.
Activities such as swimming and travelling are avoided as it is considered dangerous in case a wayward ghost were to cause an accident. Likewise, getting married or moving house is avoided during this period as it is considered bad luck.
When is the Hungry Ghost Festival in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017?
Year 20132014201520162017
Date21 August10 August28 August17 August4 September
- See more at: http://chinatoursandholidays.com/hungry-ghost-festival#sthash.EuyO1uxc.dpuf

Hungry Ghost Festival




Questions?

(+86) 010-84004760

“The best travel experience I've had so far! The guide was very knowledgeable about the destinations and provided us with the best service we could have hoped for. We're already considering our next trip to the South of China!”
C. Hansen



Follow us






With roots in Buddhism, the Hungry Ghost Festival is a time of honouring ancestors and appeasing the ’hungry’ ghosts that wander the world of the living when the ‘Gates of Hell’ are opened once a year.

It is believed that these Gates of Hell are opened once a year during the Hungry Ghost Month and all the lost and hungry ghosts of hell are free to roam the living world. To appease these lost souls and to prevent them from causing the living harm, people put food out for the ghosts to enjoy. Elaborate ceremonies and rituals are also performed to please the ghosts.
Activities such as swimming and travelling are avoided as it is considered dangerous in case a wayward ghost were to cause an accident. Likewise, getting married or moving house is avoided during this period as it is considered bad luck.
When is the Hungry Ghost Festival in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017?
Year 20132014201520162017
Date21 August10 August28 August17 August4 September
- See more at: http://chinatoursandholidays.com/hungry-ghost-festival#sthash.EuyO1uxc.dpuf

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Podcast (I guested): Paranormal Kool-Aid Radio- Energy and Paranormal!

On January 21 I had the pleasure of being the first guest on Paranormal Kool-Aid: The Lighter Side of Haunting
We were going to talk about Pets and the afterlife, but wound up having a very interesting discussion about energy and the paranormal - and the science behind ghosts and spirits. My interview was an hour long and went by way too quickly.
Hopefully Cara and crew will have me back.
  I think you'll find the interview pretty interesting since it's centered on science and energy with the Paranormal!
-Rob Gutro
 http://tobtr.com/s/7211053. ‪#‎BlogTalkRadio‬  (
 
‪#‎PKA2015‬)

For my book  Lessons Learned from Talking to the Dead 
Available  for $8.99 paperback and $2.99 E-book on AMAZON: http://tinyurl.com/q3bhgde
or to Purchase from the CreateSpace eStore: https://www.createspace.com/3824548
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SUMMARY for LESSONS LEARNED:
Follow Rob on a treasure-hunt-style journey in Virginia as he and others try to explain what appear to be random and obscure words, signs and symbols from a spirit, that all wind up being intensely personal to the spirit.Explore the science behind how they communicate. Learn how to receive their messages, where they appear, and important messages in how to live your life. Rob takes you into cemeteries, battlefields, and historic places. You’ll see what happens to victims of suicide and murders, and how infants and animals pass messages to the living. Featuring: Inspired Ghost Tracking and mediums Barb Mallon, Troy Cline and Ruth Larkin. 


Saturday, January 24, 2015

ARTICLE: Living in a Haunted House? Real Paranormal Investigators Reveal the Signs

I had the good fortune to be one of the people interviewed for this great article from Cafemom about haunted houses and hauntings.  Enjoy!   Rob

 Living in a Haunted House? Real Paranormal Investigators Reveal the Signs

haunted housePeople love getting spooked this time of year. For most, the days and weeks leading up to Halloween are for ghost stories, playing scary pranks on friends, and watching horror films. But for some, ghosts aren't just something they think about in October. The reason? They are living in what they believe to be a haunted house 365 days a year. So The Stir went to three top paranormal investigators to find out the signs you are living with a spirit and what to do if you are.





Before going into Ghostbusters mode, it's important to know a few basic distinctions about those spooky spirits, says Loyd Auerbach, Director of the Office of Paranormal Investigations and author of ESP WARS: East & West.
Apparition: An apparition is our personality (or spirit, soul, consciousness, mind) surviving the death of the body, and capable of interaction with the living and presumably other apparitions. This is the true definition of a ghost.
Haunting: A location (or object) holds or records information about its history. Our own psychic abilities allow us to pick up certain play-backs of this history, including sightings of people. However, these are recordings, not conscious beings. Referred to as “place memory” and “residual hauntings.”
Poltergeist: Physical effects, such as moving objects, in a situation caused by the subconscious mind of a living agent, generally someone in the household undergoing emotional and/or psychological stress. Effects are caused by psychokinesis (PK).

1. What is the most obvious sign that your house may be haunted?
"Movement of doors, sounds of footsteps, movement of items -- like putting a check down on a table and it isn't there when you return to the room -- that's called an apport," explains medium Rob Gutro, author of Lessons Learned From Talking to the Dead. "Ghosts can affect the electricity in your home, short out lights, or dim them. Cold spots are another way to tell if a ghost is there -- but check for blowing vents and open windows first. Because ghosts are energy, they draw the energy from the movement from the moving air molecules and slow them down. Slower moving molecules of air are cooler air. Ghosts in homes also tend to give off negative energy and make people feel more irritated, depressed, and more argumentative."

2. Are there subtle signs of a haunting that people often miss?
"There can be subtle smells of perfume or pipe or cigar smoke," describes spirit advocate and medium Bonnie Vent. "These smells are usually related to the person when they were alive. The scent of lavender, roses, etcetera, are quite common in homes built in the Victorian era. The people living in the home may dismiss losing their keys only to have them appear back again in the same place as forgetfulness. You might also find things that you cannot account for. These things tend to have meaning to the spirit person and are being used as a communication tool. People do tend to dismiss the more subtle signs which can cause the activity to increase in an attempt to get their attention."
3. Is it true that pets and children can see things adults cannot?

"As I explain in my new book, Pets and the Afterlife, dogs and cats have different cones and rods in their eyes that allow them to see faster movement than humans can see," says Gutro. "Spirits and ghosts move at that higher vibration. Dogs and cats also have the ability to hear higher frequencies. Think of a dog whistle that humans can't hear. Spirits and ghosts talk on that higher frequency, so they can hear it."
Kids also have an innate ability to tune into these entities, though that is lost as they grow older. "Babies and small children are wide open to their world," adds Vent. "They have not been taught to dismiss what they see and feel. All too often a sensitive child will be strongly discouraged by adults in talking about seeing spirit people. The parents may dismiss this as an imaginary friend or accuse the child of telling tales. It is better to engage the child with interest and ask them age-appropriate questions. Do not be fearful as they will pick up on this fear and be afraid simply because you are."

4. Kate Hudson has said, "When you see something, you are supposed to tell the energy what year it is and that they don’t belong there.” Is that true? Will that really get a spirit to leave?
"The year is really irrelevant if indeed you have an apparition," advises Auerbach, who also coauthored Ghost Detectives' Guide to Haunted San Francisco. "Telling them they don’t belong there is not a bad idea, but a better one is to ask questions like,
'Who are you?'
'What do you need?'
'What can we do for you?'
Interestingly, most apparitions leave after that, though some actually try to communicate. At that point, it becomes a bit of a discussion and diplomacy to either convince the ghost to move on or help them with whatever they might need. Explaining to them that they are dead, without a body, that they need to move on -- whether to 'the Light' or simply to someplace more fun. Ask them to go to someplace they always wanted to visit when they were alive. Of course, most people are unfortunately too scared to ask those questions -- or actually too afraid they might get an answer."
5. Are most cases you encounter actual hauntings?

"It's about 50-50," admits Gutro. "One of the members in the ghost tracking group is an architect, that can explain settling of houses, drafts, etc. I'm a scientist, so I can explain heat and cold and other physics-related issues. Sometimes, though, teenage girls have a lot of energy they can project and simulate ghosts and haunting activities. That's called a poltergeist. We've had to recommend counseling for a couple of girls who did wind up being the cause of what appeared to be paranormal activity."
"We have encountered a lot of cases of true hauntings," Gutro continues. "I wrote about a double murder investigation in my book Lessons Learned From Talking to the Dead, where two women were ghostmurdered in a home and were still there -- and we learned and confirmed how they died. They still linger there because they want to protect families that live there. I have a picture (at right) of a face of one of them that appeared in an orb -- the most simple form a ghost can take."

6. What should a person do if they believe their home is haunted?
Take notes, advises Auerbach. Record the times and locations of incidents and look for patterns. Also rule out alternate, non-paranormal reasons for what is happening, like creaky floor boards or a drafty house. If there is something present, "they need to be treated with respect," warns Gutro. "Treat them like a neighbor that you want to leave so you can make dinner. Ask them politely to leave and tell them you live here now. Make sure that they know this is YOUR house. If you can't clear them out, contact a local paranormal group like Inspired Ghost Tracking in Maryland. I'm a medium in that group and we'll help them cross over."

7. What happens if you just try to ignore the spirit?
Very bad idea, warns Vent. "Most people will try to ignore or dismiss activity. If the activity is caused by a spirit person, this can cause an escalation. Just like a living person they will try harder to get your attention."

8. Are there things people should never do?
"One thing that people SHOULD avoid are Ouija boards," cautions Gutro. "They open doorways and allow dark entities to come in, in addition to someone you may want to hear from. Many times when people use them, we know when we walk in. Opening a door to another side will also allow discontent, anger, depression, and even sickness."

9. Is living with a ghost as terrifying as the movies make it out to be?
"Real activity tends to not be scary at all if it is understood by the people experiencing it," says Vent. "Sadly, most people’s experience is horror and they jump immediately into fear. Some people fear the unknown and unseen and some like me just want to know more about how it works. There are many people who live happily with a spirit person or two in their home. They name them and talk to them all the time. Communication and understanding are key to any good relationship, even with those that have passed."
Have you ever been in a haunted house?

Image © Mike Agliolo/Corbis

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Interview Tonight at 9pm ET on Paranormal Kool-Aid Radio

Interview Tonight!  January 21, Wed. 9 p.m. EST- Interview on Paranormal Kool-Aid Radio 
Join the chat room during the interview to ask questions: http://www.paranormalkoolaid.com/
Call in: 1-646-929-2384 to call into show 
OR email questions, comments and concerns pkaradio@gmail.com 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

'The boy who came back from heaven' Co-author says best-selling book is false


    Whenever someone lies and misleads people about an afterlife experience it really disturbs me. Such is the case with a book that became a best seller and was made into a film last year called "The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven."          
     As someone who has genuinely had a gift to get messages from people on the other side since I was a teenager, the moment I read the jacket of this book I told others it was a fake. 
   What's even more disgusting to me is that it was all concocted by a preacher - the young boy's father (now divorced from his mother).  He obviously made up this story to convince people of his religion and profit from his deception. 
    So, I urge people to be careful what they read about afterlife experiences. If it follows too closely to a religion, then it is likely false. 
    I have come to know several genuine mediums who can pass messages on from the other side, and the messages usually never include any religion's references. I've written my own books about my experiences but everything I've written can be validated by others. To do so otherwise is shameful, misleading and abhorrent. Question motive before you believe them. - Rob
   

SOURCE:  The following "confession" appeared in christianitytoday.com: http://www.christiantoday.com/article/the.boy.who.came.back.from.heaven.alex.malarkey.says.i.did.not.die.i.did.not.go.to.heaven/46044.htm

AND  http://www.gospelherald.com/articles/53993/20150115/the-boy-who-came-back-from-heaven-recants-story-says-the-bible-is-the-only-source-of-truth.htm

'The boy who came back from heaven' Alex Malarkey says best-selling book is false

The best-selling story of a boy's near-death experience is a fake, according to its co-author and subject.
Tyndale
Alex Malarkey has retracted his story about going to heaven and returning
The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven was written by Alex and his father Kevin Malarkey and published by Tyndale House in 2010. It purported to tell the story of six-year-old Alex's experiences in heaven after a car accident in 2004, which included meeting and talking to Jesus.
    Now, however, Alex – who was left quadraplegic by the accident – has written an open letter to booksellers including the Southern Baptist Convention's Lifeway business recanting his story and taking aim at other accounts of "heaven tourism", a genre that includes Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo and My Journey to Heaven by Marvin Besteman.
Addressed to "Lifeway and Other Sellers, Buyers, and Marketers of Heaven Tourism, by the Boy Who Did Not Come Back From Heaven", the letter says: "Please forgive the brevity, but because of my limitations I have to keep this short.
"I did not die. I did not go to Heaven.
     "I said I went to heaven because I thought it would get me attention. When I made the claims that I did, I had never read the Bible.     People have profited from lies, and continue to. They should read the Bible, which is enough. The Bible is the only source of truth. Anything written by man cannot be infallible.
"It is only through repentance of your sins and a belief in Jesus as the Son of God, who died for your sins (even though he committed none of his own) so that you can be forgiven may you learn of Heaven outside of what is written in the Bible ... not by reading a work of man. I want the whole world to know that the Bible is sufficient. Those who market these materials must be called to repent and hold the Bible as enough."
      Alex's mother Beth, who is divorced from his father (who is a preacher) and who is Alex's caregiver, had previously disowned the book, writing on her blog: "It is both puzzling and painful to watch the book The Boy who Came Back from Heaven to not only continue to sell, but to continue, for the most part, to not be questioned." She claimed that he had not benefited financially from it, concluding: "Alex did not write the book and it is not blessing him!"
  The Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution at its 2014 conference critical of 'heaven tourism' books, though they continue to be sold by Lifeway.
Tyndale House and Kevin Malarkey were approached to comment on this story.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR FROM AMAZON: Kevin Malarkey is a Christian therapist with a counseling practice near Columbus, Ohio. He attended the College of Wooster and earned a graduate degree from Ohio State University. He and his wife, Beth, have four children (Alex, Aaron, Gracie, and Ryan) and attend a nondenominational evangelical church.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Spirit at Work: The Christmas Eve Package!

I often say how spirits influence things to happen to let us know that they're still around. Around Christmastime, I got a call from my friend Cathy who received an amazing sign from her daughter who had passed 6 years earlier. I asked Cathy to write up the event so you could read it first-hand and she sent it to me. Cathy's story appears below:
 
The Christmas Eve Package



In August 2008 my daughter passed away at the age of 40.  Ever since then I get signs from her as she leaves me dimes to let me know she's still with me. 
       On 12/16/14 I found out I have to have a hysterectomy and my big concern is that I'll become incontinent.  On Christmas eve I heard a knock at the door and when I got there, there was nobody there but there was a package addressed to my deceased daughter from a medical supply place.  
   One of my other daughters called them 12/26 and they said the last package that was sent to her was 4/23/08 but it was never marked as received so to open the package and if it was a left wrist splint it was that UPS had just found the package.  So I opened the package and it's an eighty pack of depends.  I started laughing thinking my daughter had sent me a Christmas gift letting me know that I will be incontinent after my surgery.  
    The ship to address inside the package was for a man in Clifton Heights and my daughter is from Philadelphia.  There are no similarities in the name.  
    I called Rob to tell him about this and he told me I have very strong spirits around me and that he feels my daughter diverted the package.  As I was talking to Rob I heard my daughter cracking up laughing and she said "go that's just in case." I had to laugh.  My daughter was a prankster in life and she still is in death.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Pets and the Afterlife/ Scientific Research: How Dogs Know What You're Feeling

In March 2014, I published "Pets and the Afterlife" about how dogs, cats and horses are able to communicate with us from the other side, and how they can sense ghosts and spirits. In order to communicate, pets need to understand our emotions and language, and they do. Every month new scientific evidence comes out to prove the intelligence of our pets. Here's one from SCIENCE Magazine that came out in Feb. 2014. - Rob
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 PETS AND THE AFTERLIFE by Rob Gutro: The loss of a pet is like the loss of a child to pet owners. The love we share with our pets never dies, and in a new book called "Pets and the Afterlife" by Rob Gutro, the author provides proof that our pets do communicate with us from the other side.    Available in paperback and E-book, on Amazon.com and other outlets at: To order paperback of Kindle- click here    
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    When you hear a friend’s voice, you immediately picture her, even if you can’t see her. And from the tone of her speech, you quickly gauge if she’s happy or sad. You can do all of this because your human brain has a “voice area.” Now, scientists using brain scanners and a crew of eager dogs have discovered that dog brains, too, have dedicated voice areas. The finding helps explain how canines can be so attuned to their owners’ feelings.
    “It’s absolutely brilliant, groundbreaking research,” says Pascal Belin, a neuroscientist at the University of Glasgow in the United Kingdom, who was part of the team that identified the voice areas in the human brain in 2000. “They’ve made the first comparative study using nonhuman primates of the cerebral processing of voices, and they’ve done it with a noninvasive technique by training dogs to lie in a scanner.”
   The scientists behind the discovery had previously shown that humans can readily distinguish between dogs’ happy and sad barks. “Dogs and humans share a similar social environment,” says Attila Andics, a neuroscientist in a research group at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest and the lead author of the new study. “So we wondered if dogs also get some social information from human voices.”
To find out, Andics and his colleagues decided to scan the canine brain to see how it processes different types of sounds, including voices, barks, and natural noises. In humans, the voice area is activated when we hear others speak, helping us recognize a speaker’s identity and pick up on the emotional content in her voice. If dogs had voice areas, it could mean that these abilities aren’t limited to humans and other primates.
   So the team trained 11 dogs to lie motionless in a functional magnetic resonance imaging brain scanner, while wearing headphones to deliver the sounds and protect their ears. “They loved doing this,” Andics says, adding that the pooches’ owners were there to reward them with treats and petting. The scanner captured images of the dogs’ brain activity while they listened to nearly 200 dog and human sounds, including whines, cries, playful barks, and laughs. The scientists also scanned the brains of 22 human subjects who listened to the same set of sounds. Both dogs and humans were awake during the scans.
   The images revealed that dog brains have voice areas and that they process voices in the same way that human brains do, the team reports online today in Current Biology. And because these voice areas are found in similar locations in the brains of both dogs and humans, the scientists suggest that they likely evolved at least 100 million years ago, when humans and dogs last shared a common ancestor, an insectivore. Indeed, some think that brain areas for processing vocal sounds could be discovered in more species.
    Still, when voice areas were first discovered in humans, they were thought to be special and somehow tied specifically to the evolution of language. “So what are they doing in dog brains?” Andics asks.
     The answer lies, he thinks, in what the scans also revealed: Striking similarities in how dog and human brains process emotionally laden sounds. Happy sounds, such as an infant’s giggle, made the primary auditory cortex of both species light up more than did unhappy sounds, such as a man’s harsh cough. “It shows that dogs and humans have similar brain mechanisms for processing the social meaning of sound,” Andics says, noting that other research has shown that dogs “respond to the way we say something rather than to what we say.” The similarity in auditory
processing, he adds, “helps explain why vocal communication between the two species is so successful.”
But there were differences, too. The researchers discovered that in dogs, 48% of their auditory brain regions respond more strongly to environmental sounds, such as a car engine, than to voices. In humans, in contrast, a mere 3% of their sound-sensitive brain regions lit up more for the nonvocal sounds. “It shows how very strongly attuned the human auditory cortex is to vocal sounds,” Andics says. “In dogs, it’s more heterogeneous.”
     Yet it is the similarity in how dogs and humans process the emotional information in voices that other researchers find most intriguing. “They’ve confirmed what any dog owner knows—that their pooches are sensitive to one’s tone of voice,” says John Marzluff, a wildlife biologist at the University of Washington, Seattle. Even more important, he adds, is that the study “confronts us with the realization that our wonderful brain is in many ways a product of our distant evolutionary past.”