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.
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.
One type of dog in particular is linked with the lowest rates of cardiovascular disease in their human pals.