BioQuakes

AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Neurological Implications of a Dog’s Brain

In this article, the brains of dogs and their neurological capacity is explored.

Biology Letters published their results on the mechanisms of a dog’s brain.

Gregory Berns, a senior on this study stated, “Our work not only shows that dogs use a similar part of their brain to process numbers of objects as humans do — it shows that they don’t need to be trained to do it.”

In the study, an fMRI was used to scan the dogs’ brains. On these images, it was shown that the parietotemporal cortex produced a lot of contrast and response.

This system supports the ability to rapidly estimate of objects in a scene, such as the number of threats approaching or the amount of food available.

However, much of the research conducted included an intensive training of the dogs.

Berns is founder of the Dog Project which is an organization that studies the evolution of dogs. The project was to first to train dogs to voluntarily enter an fMRI scanner.

Berns states his findings, “Our results provide some of the strongest evidence yet that numerosity is a shared neural mechanism that goes back at least that far.”

Overall this study found that “new canine numerosity study suggests that a common neural mechanism has been deeply conserved across mammalian evolution.”‘

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6 Comments

  1. mitochondriana

    This article is great! Very cool to know that most mammals think the same way. I did not know that they are all so closely intertwined. This makes me wonder if birds or insects all have the same neural composition, if they too can estimate numerical values just as well as mammals can. This is a link to a paper I found that touches on the similarities between birds and their thought processes https://www.audubon.org/news/bird-brains-theyre-more-complicated-you-think . Apparently their brains are quite different from mammalian intellect.

  2. liambilicalcord

    Cool research! As a dog owner, my dad often asked about my dog Grady saying “what do you think he’s thinking about?”. We usually joke about how he only thinks about food and where my mom is at any given moment (he is very attached). I found an article that talks about dogs’ brain development and the extent to which they can feel and experience emotions (https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2017/09/dog-brain-feelings-mri-gregory-berns/) I’m sure we have all experienced dogs “puppy dog eyes” but it is awesome to see that there may be more going on than just a wagging tail and sad eyes that go on in our pet’s head.

  3. tsiamine

    This is very interesting @glovcose! It was interesting to read about how dogs use a similar part of their brain to process objects as humans do. It is also really interesting to see how certain studies expand our knowledge on dogs and how this may change our view on how we relate dogs to people. I also found an article exploring our likeness to dogs: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2015/07/150720-dogs-animals-science-pets-evolution-intelligence/. I also wonder if different stimuli in the brain change with specific types of breeds of dogs. It is really amazing to see how the brain of a dog really works!

  4. metalibolism

    This is so interesting. It seems that dogs are more aware than we give them credit for, and it’s so cool that we’re finally able to train dogs for MRIs so we can learn more about their brains. I found an article https://www.petmd.com/dog/behavior/dog-brain-facts-understanding-canine-cognition that talks about how, although similar to humans and other mammals, dog’s brains are largely used for analyzing smells. One of the researchers said, “It is also presumed that dogs associate scent with memories, which is why they can be trained to sniff for bombs and drugs.” It seems dogs have the capacity to process the world as much as humans, they just do so in a different way.

  5. helenogenous

    Thanks for sharing @GLOVCOSE! It was interesting to learn that humans and dogs share similar processing centers in our brains and that this happens without even training the dogs. Here is another article https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323381#Studying-dogs-inside-a-brain-scanner that discusses how dogs process information and can distinguish between new and old words. Similar to your blogpost, these researchers used an fMRI to analyze the dogs’ processing. These researches found similar results that the dogs parietotemporal cortex is stimulated in response to pseudo-words but they also found that there was a subset of dogs that had other portions of their brains stimulated. Given that dogs seem to have an advanced neural network, do you think that this should be a component in dog training?

  6. Joule

    I found this article very interesting. I love dogs a lot and to learn more about the way their brains work is so cool. Sometimes I question wether dogs see as much as we do and if they can always see the full picture, and to now know more about the way they see things is great! I think that this article gives great information to the reader.

    Here is a article that extends the ideas of this article.
    https://www.merckvetmanual.com/dog-owners/brain,-spinal-cord,-and-nerve-disorders-of-dogs/nervous-system-disorders-and-effects-of-injuries-in-dogs

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