Exploring the Neural Similarities Between Humans and Dogs

If you’re a dog lover and think you and your furry friend have something in common, a new study may back up your claim. Researchers from E​otvos Lorand University in Hungary have discovered that the voice-sensitive regions of dog and human brains are similar.

The study detailing this information was published in the journal of Current Biology. Through positive reinforcement incentives, like giving the dogs treats, the researchers were able to encourage dogs to enter a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine and sit still for six minutes at a time. While the dogs were in the machine, the scientists played 200 sounds representing a mix of human voices, canine vocalizations and meaningless noises, according to Smithsonian magazine. The dogs responded to the human and canine vocalizations at a higher rate than the non-vocal sounds. Additionally, humans were given the same test with similar results.

“The very exciting finding is that in both the human brain and the dog brain, these ‘voice areas’ are located in very similar places,” Attila Andics, lead author of the study and neuroscientist at the university, told Smithsonian magazine.

The researchers believe that dogs are attuned to human vocalizations because of their domestication, which made it important for them to be able to interpret the vocal cues of their human companions.

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