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Dog emotion study: Study shows dogs understand emotions in voices same as humans

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A dog emotion study has shown us that there is a scientific reason why we feel so close to our canine best friends – dogs process, and react, to emotions in voices the same as humans do. A new study by a research group in Hungary shows that our canine counterparts respond to emotions the same way that we do, reports MSN Living on Friday.

The MTA-ELTE Research Group studied dog brain activity in eleven Golden Retrievers and Border Collies and found that our pets have “dedicated voice areas in their brains, just as people do.” This area of their brain receives, interprets, and in many ways responds to emotive stimuli the same as you and I would.

Attila Andics, a researcher of the MTA-ELTE Research Group explains that their findings show that dogs and humans “use similar brain mechanisms to process social information.”

MTA-ELTE researchers had to train the test dogs to remain motionless so that they would be able to lay 8 minutes in an MRI machine while brain wave analysis was being recorded. While the dogs were being tested, different emotional sounds were played, such as yelling, laughing and crying – over 300 sounds in all were tested.

“They just love it; they can’t wait to be next,” said Andics.

Andics and his colleagues found that the dogs’ neural responses to these sounds were the same as a human – thus showing that the emotions felt by the dogs in many ways mirror ours.

The researchers also played various sounds of other barking dogs, varying the barks from short clipped barks that generally indicate playfulness, to longer howls and wails when a dog is upset. The study showed that dogs responded stronger to other dogs, much the same way that humans respond stronger to other humans.

“When the researchers played happy sounds, an area near the dog’s primary auditory cortex lit up more than when they played unhappy sounds,” says the Liberty Voice. “The Hungarian study… shows that a dog’s loyalty and compassion towards humans comes from their ability to understand emotions just like humans. The research may also help to explain why some dogs are so affectionate, and loyal towards their owners.”

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