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MRI machines are providing new insight into how dogs think (about their owners)

dog close up

Two teams have used MRI machines to provide answers. We can see the parts of the brains they are using in different situations, and this can be very revealing.

Dogs’ brains respond to the emotional tone in our voices very much as humans do

When humans are studied in this way researcher show them photos or videos to see what response it will elicit. But Gregory Berns of Emory University, Atlanta points out that “Olfaction is believed to be dogs’ most powerful and perhaps important sense.” Consequently he allowed twelve dogs from ten breeds to smell scents from strangers and people they knew and from other dogs while lying in an MRI machine.

Bonding with owners is much more important for dogs than other pets

An even more startling observation of the extent to which dogs have bonded with humans is their tendency to look people in the eyes. Andic was part of a study that attempted to train wolves to do the same thing. Even when the wolves were raised by humans from pups they would not initiate eye contact with those that cared for them. Andics claims the only other animals inclined to make eye contact with humans are our primate relatives.

November 25, 2014 | by Stephen Luntz
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