Whether dogs truly understand the words we say — as opposed to things like tone and context clues — is a question that has long perplexed owners, and so far science hasn't been able to deliver clear answers.

But a new brain wave study published Friday in Current Biology suggests that hearing the names of their favorite toys actually activates dogs' memories of those objects.

"It definitely shows us that it's not human-unique to have this type of referential understanding," first author Lilla Magyari of the Eotvos Lorand University in Hungary said, explaining that researchers have been skeptical up to this point.