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Wouldn’t it just be great to be able to read your dog’s mind? Sometimes my little 12 year old poodle will just sit and look at me and bark occasionally. You wonder what is going through their minds when they greet us with doggy kisses, wagging tails and so on when we walk through the door. Remember, they are “man’s best friend”. I love my Lucy dog so much because she loves me unconditionally and no matter what.
Researchers from the University of Mexico contend that it is well known that dogs relate socially to humans and have for thousands of years. They recognize their owners’ faces and pay very close attention to the cues we give them in order to gauge our emotions. Brain regions exist in humans that help to process other human faces and researchers wanted to find out if similar brain regions exist in dogs.
Seven dogs were in a study where they were first trained to remain awake, still and unrestrained inside an MRI scanner. Then the dogs were shown 50 images of humans and 50 images of everyday inanimate objects. Upon viewing human images, activity increased in the temporal cortex region of the brain. This is part of the ventral visual pathway that is used to process complex stimuli like faces, in humans and, apparently, also in dogs. This indicates that viewing human faces triggers the same brain regions in both humans and dogs. Dogs found viewing the human faces to be more rewarding than viewing inanimate objects.
Our dogs are integrated into humans’ social structures, making them a perfect study social cognition choice. They can discriminate between two human faces, even if they are quite similar. Dogs can also tell when you are smiling and whether or not you are paying attention to him or her. If your dog can establish eye contact with you, he/she will be more likely to ask for food.
The “reward center” or caudate nucleus of your dogs’ brain has revealed as well, fascinating insights into dogs’ emotional capacity. This is proof that they love their humans. Haven’t you ever noticed how loyal they are to their owners, even those that are less than kind to their dogs?
Sometimes it’s hard to recognize exactly what Lucy is trying to tell me, but we’re getting there. I’m eventually being trained by my dog and soon, I might be able to read her mind and every wish! After all, who’s the boss? I guess we all know the answer to that one! Love your pet and pay attention to his/her actions. They want love and attention just like we humans do. They kind of take the place of our children that have flown the coop, and fill our lives again. Those fighting cancer also get great healing boosts from the love and comfort of pets.
Dr Fredda Branyon