Not at all surprised - dog brains and human brains share a lot

From Wired:

Brain Scans Show Striking Similarities Between Dogs and Humans
A new brain-imaging study of mankind's best friend has found a striking similarity in how humans and dogs - and perhaps many other mammals - process voice and emotion.

Like humans, dogs appear to possess brain systems that are devoted to making sense of vocal sounds, and are sensitive to their emotional content. These systems have not previously been described in dogs or any non-primate species, and the new findings offer an intriguing neurobiological glimpse into the richness of our particular corner of the animal kingdom.

Some more on the experiment:

To investigate the possibility, Andics and colleagues trained six golden retrievers and five border collies to lie motionless inside a scanner so the researchers could collect fMRI scans of their brains. These scans measure changes in blood flow, which is widely considered an indicator of neural activity.

Inside the scanner, each of the 11 dogs, and a comparison group of 22 men and women, listened to nearly 200 recordings of dog and human sounds: whining and crying, laughing and barking. As expected, human voice-processing areas responded most to human voices. In dogs, corresponding brain regions responded to the sounds of dogs. In both species, the activity in these regions changed in similar ways in response to the emotional tone of a vocalization - whining versus playful barking in dogs, for instance, or crying versus laughing human voices.

To people who know dogs as companions and friends, the results might seem predictable. But seeing it play out in the brain drives the point home.

fMRI stands for functional MRI. This is a neat hack as the blood flow through the brain is directly proportional to brain activity. When more blood starts flowing through a certain section, the observer can see that part is being more active. Our dogs are pretty near psychic especially Grace, my Shiloh Shepherd. My old Brittney Spaniel is blind and sometimes wanders off. I only have to ask Grace to Go find Finnegan and she will go and lead him back to the door. I did not have to train her to do this -- she understands what Lulu and I want.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on February 21, 2014 3:26 PM.

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