More on those happy dogs.

Indebted, again, to Chris Gomez.

Jean and I were out for much of yesterday resulting in me not sitting down to compose today’s post until nearly 5pm (PDT) in the afternoon. I must admit I didn’t have a clue as to what to write about. Then sitting in my email inbox was another email from Chris Gomez with this short but valuable sentence, “Love is real….Check this out! (via ABC7 Los Angeles local news iOS app) Study reveals scientific reason your dog is happy to see you.” Chris included a link to the ABC7 news item. I’m republishing it here.

ooOOoo

STUDY REVEALS SCIENTIFIC REASON YOUR DOG IS HAPPY TO SEE YOU

A new study explains why your dog gets so happy to see you. (Shutterstock)
A new study explains why your dog gets so happy to see you. (Shutterstock)

Tuesday, August 11, 2015 11:04AM

Is your dog overwhelmed with joy anytime you walk through the door? There’s a scientific reason behind their excitement, a new study shows, and it’s not just because you feed them.

Researchers at Emory University used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to scan dogs’ brains for activity when they were shown images of dog faces, human faces and ordinary objects.

The dogs’ temporal lobes lit up “significantly more” when presented with the faces than with the objects. These findings suggest that dogs may recognize both human and dog faces.

Facial recognition causes dog brains to activate in the same areas as in monkey and human brains, the study found. This is separate from the “reward areas” that would be triggered by anticipation of food.

“What we’re finding with the imaging work is that dogs love their humans-and not just for food,” researcher Gregory Berns told io9. “They love the company of humans simply for its own sake.”

“The existence of a face-selective region in the temporal dog cortex opens up a whole range of new questions to be answered about their social intelligence,” the researchers explained, such as whether dogs can understand different facial expressions and whether they can read body language.

This isn’t the first time scientists have explored what makes dogs’ tails wag with excitement when reunited with their owners. A January study that Berns was also involved in found that dogs have a positive reaction to the scent of familiar humans compared with other smells, even those of other dogs.

The results of that study “suggested that not only did the dogs discriminate that scent [of familiar humans] from the others, they had a positive association with it.”

A 2013 behavioral study found that dogs can show when they’re happy to see their owners by lifting their eyebrows. Their left eyebrow went up when they saw their respective owners, the study found. They didn’t have this reaction for other things that may excite them, such as attractive toys.

ooOOoo

Granted there was some overlap with Monday’s post but there was more than enough in the ABC7 article to warrant sharing it with you.

Thanks again, Chris.

 

10 thoughts on “More on those happy dogs.

  1. Forgive me Paul, but is this not another case of science confirming the ‘bleedin’ obvious’? Surely anyone with experience of dogs knows “that dogs may recognize both human and dog faces”, and that their welcoming responses to our initial presence are not linked to reward, other than the emotional reward of companionship? What point am I missing here?

    1. Hariod, you aren’t missing anything and, yes, the majority of dog lovers know this truth. However, to have it underwritten by scientific findings is not without value. Just an opinion of mine.

      But either way it was lovely to have your reply.

      1. Yes Paul, I too recognise the value in understanding the neural substrates involved, regardless of what may in any case be reliably inferred and readily apparent in behavioural evidence. The social intelligence of the dog seems remarkably advanced of course, and so naturally provides a rich source for such research. Having said that, I am struck by the amount of academic funding that goes into confirming what is already self-evident, and wonder if the apportioning of funds is done quite as effectively as it could be. Much is determined by commercial interests of course.

      2. “is this not another case of science confirming the ‘bleedin’ obvious’?” “I am struck by the amount of academic funding that goes into confirming what is already self-evident, and wonder if the apportioning of funds is done quite as effectively as it could be. Much is determined by commercial interests of course.”

        – I am with Hariod here, though I’m not critising your post Paul, you are the messenger, and there is interest to be had in knowing these studies are taking place, and finding out why. If one has never known the joy of a canine, one might be more inclined to only believe the above if heralded under a scientific banner I suppose. Then again, they might just be cat people and never get it. Hahahahah.

        – sonmi.u.t.C

  2. Great Comments Paul from both Hariod and Sonmi.. I am a cat person LOL.. but I Do get it haha.. 🙂 and my cat would run to greet me when I came home.. My Dads cat would walk down the village hill at the exact time everyday.. wait on a high wall for my Dad coming home from the Quarry.. Jump on his shoulder and ride on it as he walked the rest of way home.. Cats DO know their owners and recognise them too hahaha.. Hugs your way.. Sue

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