For many years, scientists and animal lovers have wondered just how intelligent man’s best friend actually is. Following recent research conducted in Hungary, it has been proven that dogs can actually understand their owners.
An MRI scanning study saw a group of canines put through their paces to determine the reasons why they are so in tune with human emotions. Sounds that are emotionally charged, such as laughing and crying, were the main focus during the study, which was published in the Current Biology journal.
Dr Attila Andics, from the Hungarian Academy of Science’s Eotvos Lorand University, is the lead author of the study. Dr. Andics spoke about the findings, saying that they found that dogs and humans had a “very similar mechanism to process emotional information.”
A total of eleven pets played a role in the study, which required twelve sessions of preparation and training time. The brains of 22 human subjects were analysed and compared to the brains of dogs that had been exposed to over 200 sounds. Noises included human sounds, whistles and environmental disruption.
Upon completion of the MRI scanning study, researchers discovered that dog brain activity takes place in the temporal pole. This is a section of the temporal lobe, which activates when people and dogs hear the voice of a human. Emotional sounds stimulated activity in the primary auditory cortex, proving that dogs are able to tune into the feelings of their owners. However, the animals were not able to differentiate between vocal and environmental noise, unlike humans.