advertisement
12 October 2020

No, your dog doesn't really prefer your face, brain scans show

A new study found that there was no difference in brain activity when dogs saw a face than when they saw the back of a head.

  • Human brains have a preference for faces
  • A study found that dogs don't have specific 'face areas' in their brains 
  • Dog brains do, however, show greater activity when they see another dog compared to seeing a human


You may think your dog is gazing lovingly at your face, but a new study suggests that's not the case.

Hungarian researchers say dogs' brains may not process faces the same way human brains do.

Faces are such an important part of communication for humans and other primates that faces have a special status in the visual system, and areas in the human brain are specifically activated by faces.

Species preference

But this study found that dogs don't have specific face areas in their brains.

The researchers, led by Nóra Bunford of Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, used magnetic imaging to compare the brain activity of 30 humans and 20 pet dogs as they watched brief videos of people and dogs.

The results revealed that human brains had a preference for faces. Some visual areas of human brains showed greater activity in response to a face than to the back of someone's head. Some of these brain regions also displayed species preference, with increased activity in response to seeing a human compared to a dog.

In contrast, dog brains only showed species preference. There was greater activity when they saw a dog than a person, and there was no difference in brain activity when dogs saw a face than when they saw the back of a head.

The findings were published on 5 October in the journal JNeurosci.

Image credit: Unsplash

 
NEXT ON HEALTH24X
advertisement

Live healthier

Lifestyle »

E-cigarettes: Here are five things to know

E-cigarettes have become hugely popular in the past decade, but a rash of vaping-linked deaths and illnesses in the US is feeding caution about a product that's already banned in some places.

Allergy »

Ditch the itch: Researchers find new drug to fight hives

A new drug works by targeting an immune system antibody called immunoglobulin E, which is responsible for the allergic reaction that causes hives.

advertisement