Dogs Shown to Have Brain Areas which Respond to Voices

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dogs mriTaking the command “stay!” to a new level has allowed scientists to learn new details of how dogs’ brains work. A science article reprinted in Science News, Science Daily and other current science news publications was originally reported in the scientific journal Current Biology on February 20th giving details of the study where researchers taught dogs to lie perfectly still inside a brain scanner in order to take clear x-rays. The results of the study showed that dogs use specific areas of their brains to detect voices.

Dogs also resemble people in the way they react to emotional cues. The various ways that dogs interact with sound elicit various levels of activity in a specific area of the brain. When humans laugh or cry, a similar reaction is produced. Researchers believe that the results of the study may lead to an explanation of how dogs can sense the emotions of their owners.

The study was performed by Attila Andics, of MTA-ELTE Comparative Ethology Research Group in Hungary, and colleagues. They trained 11 dogs to lay motionless so that they could use neuroimaging on both dogs and humans to observe brain activity while they listened to almost 200 dog and human sounds. The researchers were not surprised to find that dogs were more likely to have a strong reaction to dog sounds, while humans had a stronger response to those of humans. In addition, dogs showed to have 48% of their sound-sensitive brain regions that responded more strongly to sounds than they did to voices, in comparison to only 3% in humans. It is considered a good start to understanding how our canine companions think of us and function in a shared environment.

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