from the world's big
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- There is a lot we can learn from the saliva in our mouths and the air in our homes.
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The dogs' ability to recognise and process human faces surpasses even that of monkeys. This newly-identified brain region may be the reason why.
If you want to know about the special relationship between human and canine you need only watch a dog owner slavishly feed, cuddle and clean up after her furry companion, day after day after day. But is this unique cross-species relationship also reflected at a deeper level, in the workings of the canine brain? A recent study in Learning and Behavior suggests so, finding that highly trained dogs have a dedicated neural area for processing human faces, separate from the area involved in processing the faces of other dogs.
Having a dog may be one way to curb lonelieness.
- A pilot study has found that dogs help socialize those with intellectual disabilities at Australian group homes.
- Previous research finds that pets helps those who use wheelchairs "feel more secure and confident in public."
- People are far more likely to interact with someone with an intellectual disability if they were walking with a dog.
Average (and standard deviations) number of encounters each outing for participants in Group 1 (with a dog) and Group 2 (without a dog; with a dog).
Image source: Living with Disability Research Centre<p>The results strongly suggest that, when dogs are present, people have more social encounters. It's a finding that's emphasized all the more by the subjective observations of the animal handlers:</p><blockquote>"I am noticing an interesting pattern in the outings where there is no dog present. Only shop attendants initiate conversation. Some say 'Hello' to me, but they try not to look at the person with the disability."</blockquote><p>This stands in stark contrast with how someone with an intellectual disability is treated if they do have a dog, say the handlers. What does this augur, then? It suggests there are social benefits to providing a dog to those with intellectual disabilities. On top of this, the findings also partially indict those who would not have interacted with someone with an intellectual disability were it not for the dog. </p><p>If loneliness has a degree of impact on our health, then it's incumbent on us to try and take steps to socialize the most vulnerable.</p>
Could it simply be pleasure for its own sake?
A Jack Russell terrier tears in and out of its doggie door, skidding and sliding on a hardwood floor, only to repeat the performance over and over again. A Border collie in the park leaps to catch a ball, runs and drops it back at the owner’s feet with a look of anxious anticipation. There’s no food treat in store for these animals, no pats on the head – they seem to do it out of sheer playful exuberance. But what are they really up to? What does it mean for a dog to ‘play’?
The study also discovered a downside to having a big brain.
Ever wonder about the intelligence of various animals and how they measure up? Researchers at Vanderbilt University decided to find out. Specifically, they chose a subsection of mammals called carnivorans. This group has 250 species, each with sharp teeth and claws, which allow them to hunt other animals.