Courtesy of Borbala Ferenczy and Eniko Kubinyi
Dogs always seem to know when you’re upset and need extra love, even though they hardly understand a word of what you say. How can that be?
Our four-legged friends have a little patch of their brain devoted to deciphering emotions in human and dog voices, scientists reported Thursday in the journal Current Biology.
“It’s the first step to understanding how dogs can be so attuned to their owner’s feelings,” says Attila Andics, a neurobiologist at the MTA-ELTE Comparative Ethology Research Group in Budapest, who led the study.
Courtesy of Eniko Kubinyi
To find the brain region, Andics and his team first had to accomplish the seemingly impossible: Get 11 pooches to lie motionless inside an MRI brain scanning machine for nearly 10 minutes at a time, all while listening to nearly 200 people and dog noises.
Thanks to Michaeleen Douceleff for writing the article; NPR for committing its resources to publishing the article; Attila Andics for leading the research that was used as the basis for Douceleff’s article and this post; the journal Current Biology for publishing the study findings; all the dogs for participating in the study; Google for helping me find the article; and all the people who, directly or indirectly, made it possible for me to include the pictures and text I used in this post.