-- Robert Preidt
THURSDAY, Feb. 20, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A new study sheds
light on why Fido understands when you firmly tell him to sit or
give him other commands.
Researchers discovered that, just like people, dogs' brains have
a dedicated voice area and an area that's sensitive to emotional
cues in voices.
The findings suggest that the voice areas in both humans and
dogs evolved at least 100 million years ago in the last common
ancestor of the two species, said the authors of the study, which
was published Feb. 20 in the journal
The results also help explain why people and dogs have been such
close partners for tens of thousands of years.
"Dogs and humans share a similar social environment," study author Attila Andics, of the MTA-ELTE Comparative Ethology Research Group in Hungary, said in a journal news release. "Our findings suggest that they also use similar brain mechanisms to process social information. This may support the success of vocal communication between the two species."
The researchers used functional MRI to monitor brain activity in
people and 11 dogs as they heard nearly 200 sounds made by humans
and dogs, such as laughter, playful barking, whining and
The scans revealed that people and dogs have voice areas in
similar locations of their brains. In addition, an area near the
primary auditory cortex in the brains of both species showed more
activation in response to happy sounds than unhappy ones.
The findings advance efforts to learn how dogs can be so tuned
in to their owners' feelings, the researchers said.
"At last we begin to understand how our best friend is looking at us and navigating in our social environment," Andics said.
The Public Broadcasting Service explains the
evolution of dogs.
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