A first of its kind study suggests that dogs are not only man’s best friend but also it process emotions in similar way to humans.
According to the researchers, dogs have brain areas that are totally dedicated to dealing with voice and acoustic emotional cues in a similar fashion as humans do.
The researchers conducted first of its kind study and compared brain function between humans and any non-primate animal say dogs. They found that the dogs have dedicated voice areas in their brains, just as humans do.
Voice areas evolved at least 100 million years ago. This was the age of the last common ancestor of humans and dogs, the findings suggest.
Attila Andics of MTA-ELTE Comparative Ethology Research Group in Hungary, said, “Dogs and humans share a similar social environment. Our findings suggest that they also use similar brain mechanisms to process social information. This may support the successfulness of vocal communication between the two species.”
For the study, the researchers trained 11 dogs to lay motionless in an fMRI brain scanner. This method made it possible to run the same neuro-imaging experiment on both dog and human participants. Notably,. Such experiment had never been done before. The researchers captured the brain activities of both dogs and humans while they listened to nearly 200 dog and human sounds like whining, crying, barking or laughing.
The images found that both dog and human brains have voice areas in similar locations. There was also striking similarities in the ways the dog and human brains process emotionally loaded sounds.
The study is published in the Cell Press journal Current Biology.