Understanding the canine brain: Do they love us like we hope?
Isn’t it amazing to think that for the last 30,000 years dogs and humans have learned to live together? In fact, it’s become quite the trend to have a pet in the family because they truly are mans best friend. It’s been proven that over 50% of American households have a dog and if they don’t have a dog they have some type of pet.
The best part about having a pet is their unconditional love but sometimes, it would be nice to know what the little brats are thinking (lol). The good news is that within the last few years in brain imaging technology, we’ve been able to get a good idea about what happens within the dogs brain during social interaction, when they smell a familiar smell or even a smell they’ve never sniffed in their life.
Don’t you think it’s crazy that scientists are actually able to study the canine brain now? And it’s even better news when you find out that dogs look up to us in all ways because we’ve become their best friend as well. Scientists have proven that dogs see us as family. In fact, they rely on us [humans] more than they do other family pets.
They look to us for affection, protection and of course all the important things you need to do in-order to keep your pet healthy and happy. But the evidence based on their ‘needing,’ us to provide for them has also been proven by the recent neuroimaging study. Emory University trained dogs to lie still within an MRI machine and then performed a fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) for measuring the canines neural response to the smell of dogs, both of which were familiar and unknown.
Dogs use their noses for everything in the world. Literally, they navigate everything with their little noses. And knowing how an animal a process smell would give us insight into social behaviors. During the study scientists discovered that when a dog smelled an owners aroma, it would cause the “reward center,” of the brain to react (the caudate nucleus). And they also found that when it came to all the different smells they do take in, they much rather prefer to smell the odor of the owner over, almost anything else.
Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest has been doing neuroimaging research as well. And they have successfully found that canine brain activity to sounds, including voices, barks and even the grunts and sighs of body language of both humans and canines also react. The dogs were similar to us in the way that we emotionally process vocal sounds and scientists also found that happy sounds tend to light up the “auditory cortex,” in both species. It just proves how much of a connection the human and dog bond has become over the last 30,000 years.
To make things easy, dogs don’t JUST pick up on our mood changes but they are literally physically made/wired that way to pick up on our mood changes.
“It’s very interesting to understand the tool kit that helps such successful vocal communication between two species,” Attila Andics, a neuroscientist and lead author of the study stated.. “We didn’t need neuroimaging to see that communication works [between dogs and people], but without it, we didn’t understand why it works. Now we’re really starting to.”
And it does get better because we also learned from Andics that dogs will interact with humans in ways that babies do with their parents. (It’s almost like they really do think they’re human). But the thing is we knew the behaved this way, what does your dog do during fireworks, a thunderstorm or something that spooked them? They run away, right?
Dogs aren’t the only ones to get scared in that manner as it’s been found horses and terrified cats will behave in the same manner.
One really touching finding (and it’s heart-warming to me because this type of communication makes me feel understood) is that dogs are the only non-primate animal that can and will look people in the eyes. This was discovered by Andics and other scientists over a decade ago when they were studying “domestication of wolves.” Their attempts were to raise wolves just like we do our dogs but this behavior of looking an owner in the eyes is very unique to canines as dogs seek out eye contact from people but their sisters and brothers (the wolves) do not look people in the eyes.
Andics opened up about the bonds dogs have with owners. Andics said:
“Bonding with owners is much more important for dogs than other pets.”
And dogs seem to have this unconditional love that’s different from other ‘loves,’ in the world. It doesn’t matter what, they always love with their full-hearts. The fact that we now know just how much our dogs love us, like we always we hoped, we can continue to spoil our little brats and learn more about their body language, loves, hates and needs. After all, that’s what makes a happy pet.
Well, go give your pup a kiss because they love you with all their nose and heart.
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