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Newly-discovered fact about dogs' brains revels why they are man’s best friend

SCI & TECH
By Mirror | August 4th 2015
By Mirror | August 4th 2015
SCI & TECH
New research from a US university shows dogs' brains are hard-wired to recognise faces

US: Cats may rule the internet, but dogs will always be man's best friend.

New research published today has revealed that our canine companions have a specially developed part of their brains responsible for recognising faces.

Scientists reckon this ability is what explains dogs' extreme sensitivity to human cues.

"Our findings show that dogs have an innate way to process faces in their brains, a quality that has previously only been well-documented in humans and other primates," said Gregory Berns, a neuroscientist at Emory University in the US and the senior author of the study.

To perform the study, the researchers placed dogs in front of both static images and moving videos while attaching them to a fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) machine.

Six of the eight dogs held their gaze for the required 30 seconds and the research team saw a significant response in their temporal lobes when human faces were displayed as opposed to everyday objects.

According to Berns, the area of the brain that responds to faces is located in the temporal cortex. Crucially, it's a different area from the 'reward system' that could respond to the images if the dogs were simply associating the human faces with food or other treats.

"Dogs are obviously highly social animals," said Berns. "So it makes sense that they would respond to faces. We wanted to know whether that response is learned or innate."

What's more, the team at Emory University believe this ability has become hard-wired into dogs through evolution.

After all, our four-legged friends have been living alongside people longer than any other animal.

In humans, there are three face-processing regions in the brain that help us distinguish and remember different features.

The research is due to be published in the scientific journal PeerJ.

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