I want to talk to you about doggie feelings.
Dogs have feelings? Of course they do.
Plus we not only understand our own feelings we also understand yours!
When Dr. Richards is sad, I put a paw on her leg or nuzzle my nose against her arm. I might even hop into her lap. Dr. Richards has always known that I know when she needs some extra love, but recently she actually found an article that tells her why. Researchers in Hungary have confirmed that canines understand humans’ feelings. They trained a dozen brave dogs to sit still long enough to be placed in an MRI scanner – personally, I start to wiggle just thinking about it – but these dogs tolerated it and the scientists discovered how similar a dog’s brain is to that of a human.
While the dogs were in the scanner, they listened to 200 everyday people noises as well as noise made by dogs. The scientists then looked at what parts of their brains lit up. Apparently, a little patch of our brains is devoted to figuring out emotions. The dogs’ brains light up when they hear happy barks or giggles and it doesn’t respond to sad growls or whines.
They then put headphones on each dog and let them listen to three types of sounds: human voices, dog sounds and environmental noises, such as a hammer hitting a nail or a phone ringing. The team then looked to see which parts of the brain responded.
Just like humans, the dogs have a little patch of neurons that light up when they hear voices of their own species — other dogs barking, growling or whining. Plus they also have a region located in the same place as people (near the ears) that is sensitive to emotional tones in both human and dog voices.
No wonder Dr. Richards and I love each other so much. I bet our brains light up at the same time! Plus a good doggie detective like me knows a person’s voice tone might just be the final clue that breask a case wide open.
Details of the study were published in the journal Current Biology in February 2014. You can also watch a video of the dogs in the scanner.