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Thread: How Dogs can Tell Your Mood

  1. How Dogs can Tell Your Mood

    A paw on the leg. A nose nuzzling against your arm. Maybe even a hop onto your lap.

    Dogs always seem to know when you're upset and need extra love, even though they hardly understand a word of what you say. How can that be?

    Our four-legged friends have a little patch of their brain devoted to deciphering emotions in human and dog voices, scientists reported Thursday in the journal Current Biology.

    And the neural circuitry acts surprisingly like the voice-detection device found in people's brains. The happier the barks or giggles, the more that brain region lights up. The sadder the growls or whines, the less it responds.

    "It's the first step to understanding how dogs can be so attuned to their owner's feelings," says Attila Andics, a neurobiologist at the MTA-ELTE Comparative Ethology Research Group in Budapest, who led the study.

    To find the brain region, Andics and his team first had to accomplish the seemingly impossible: Get 11 pooches to lie motionless inside an MRI brain scanning machine for nearly 10 minutes at a time, all while listening to nearly 200 people and dog noises.

    "They are happy volunteers in the scanner — you should just see it! They really are!" Andics tells Shots.


    Other researchers have gotten a few dogs to sit still long enough in an MRI machine to analyze their brain activity. But the feat has never been accomplished with so many dogs and for such long periods of time.

    "We really have no clue about what's going on in the dog's brain," Andics says. "Now we can start to look at how our best friend looks at us and figure out what makes our alliance and communication with them so strong."

    Back in the late 1990s, Canadian scientists identified a part of the human brain devoted to recognizing people's voices. The so-called voice area doesn't process words or sentences. Rather, it figures out all the other information packed into sounds. For instance, who's the person speaking? How is he feeling? Is she being snarky or serious? Silly or sardonic?

    Andics and his team wanted to see if dogs had an analogous region in their brains. But how do you get an energetic border collie to sit still long enough to perform the experiment? "If they move more than a few millimeters, we have to start the scans again," Andics says.

    He and his team started off with standard training methods: heaps of treats, praise and love. But what really did the trick, Andics says, was brewing up a little bit of jealousy among the dogs.

    "We'd put an experienced dog up in the scanner, and he'd be up there sitting still," Andics says. "Then we'd bring into the room a less experienced dog. And he'd get so jealous! He just wanted to be on the scanner bed like the other dog. It became the place of happiness."

    After about 20 training sessions apiece, Andics and his team had a pack of border collies and Labrador and golden retrievers all ready for their experiments.


    Bacteria On Dog Lovers' Skin Reveal Their Affection

    They put headphones on each dog and let them listen to three types of sounds: human voices, doggy voices and environmental noises, such as a phone ringing or a hammer hitting a nail. The team then looked to see which parts of the brain responded.

    Lo and behold, just as with humans, the dogs have a little patch of neurons that light up most strongly when they hear voices of their own species — other dogs barking, growling or whining.

    There also was a region that was sensitive to emotional tones in both human and dog voices. And that area was in the same location as the one found in people — right in the back of the brain near the ears.

    "When you looked at how dogs respond to emotional cues in sounds, it's very similar to how humans respond," Andics says. "It's in the same brain region ... and is stronger with positive vocalizations than negative ones."

    So how do our furry companions tell a happy giggle from a sad sigh?

    "Like people, dogs use simple acoustic parameters to extract out the feelings from a sound," Andics says. "For instance, when you laugh, 'Ha ha ha,' it has short, quick pieces. But if you make the pieces longer, 'Haaaa, haaaa, haaaa,' it starts to sound like crying or whining. This is what people — and dogs — pay attention to."

    (The pictures that accompanied this article were of these 11 different dogs lying in & around an MRI scanner. Quite a picture!! Occasionally my cats can also sense my mood, especially when I'm sad! J )

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    Re: How Dogs can Tell Your Mood

    Hi Joan, Just a few days ago, I saw this program, and was sure that saved it..... but cannot now find it.

    It was very interesting, and as you say, the photos were very good. To see a row of heads on the scanner bed, and all looking very peaceful.

    I must do another search for the missing file lol

    Thanks

    Ranald

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    Re: How Dogs can Tell Your Mood

    Hi Ranald Hi Joan,
    Here references for you both.................


    Dogs' brain scans reveal vocal responses
    By Rebecca Morelle

    Science reporter, BBC World Service
    Devoted dog owners often claim that their pets understand them. A new study suggests they could be right.

    By placing dogs in an MRI scanner, researchers from Hungary found that the canine brain reacts to voices in the same way that the human brain does.

    Emotionally charged sounds, such as crying or laughter, also prompted similar responses, perhaps explaining why dogs are attuned to human emotions.

    There are photographs also...........

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-26276660



    ######################


    After studying dog emotions with MRI: “Dogs are people, too”

    Read more at http://www.zmescience.com/medicine/a...sguh35Ejeh6.99



    &&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&


    Dogs Have Feelings, Too: Neuroscientist Uses MRI Scans To Argue That Dogs Have Emotions, Rights
    By John Ericson | Oct 6, 2013 06:56 PM EDT


    http://www.medicaldaily.com/dogs-hav...-rights-259124

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    Re: How Dogs can Tell Your Mood

    Hi Gordon, Many thanks for the links, I 'think' I have saved them both !!

    Having been brought up with dogs, canaries and a tortoise, then having dogs and cats with my own children, I can understand the recent findings as shown in the links you give.

    At one stage of my life, I lived on a farm where there were cattle and sheep.

    On reflection, there was an affinity with some of these animals. When letting the cattle out to graze, or bringing them back in for milking, they would look at you in a way that resembled 'talking' !

    Ranald

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    Re: How Dogs can Tell Your Mood

    Hi, For a short look, along with a talk by one of the researchers, try this link.

    Within the link, it does not say 'Copyright', but I think it should be given the benefit of doubt.

    http://www.cell.com/current-biology/...60982214001237

    You can view the short video, without having to 'subscribe'.

    Worth making it 'Full Screen'.

    Ranald
    Last edited by Ranald; 24th February 2014 at 09:41.

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  9. Re: How Dogs can Tell Your Mood

    Wow! You fellas took "the ball & ran with it"! I appreciate your input to this topic. I've had many dogs in my own life, & have many good memories with them. 2 Airedales, one Jack Russell, a black cocker spaniel (a runner), & a few cats, some of which I own at present time. Also have barn cats, who basically came from a feral mother cat. Some of them disappear, when they "feel like it".

    Thanks, Joan

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    Re: How Dogs can Tell Your Mood

    Sadly we do not have any dogs at the present time, at one stage there were five [5] 2 border collie spaniel crosses, 2 Chihuahuas [brother and sister] and a Shitzu Kelpie cross, all amazing dogs. Hamish, the last surivor lives with my daughter and son-in-law [he is about 12] , his friend and companion [who keeps him active] and is now about 4 is a King Charles Spaniel and Beagle cross called "Coco", . Every dog we have owned has had a wonderful nature.



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    Re: How Dogs can Tell Your Mood

    From what I know about dogs that means you also have a wonderful nature as dogs do reflect their owners.

    Alastair

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    Re: How Dogs can Tell Your Mood

    I agree.

    Cheers,

    Hugh

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    Re: How Dogs can Tell Your Mood

    I agree that dogs can sense what is going on. My dog, whom we had for 16 years, used to always come and put his paws on my lap when he wanted his dinner. He only ever did that to me. But, on the day when my late husband was going into the hospice, he went over to the armchair where he was sitting and put his paws and head on his lap. It was really weird, as if he knew and was saying goodbye. After Dieter died I had a lot of trouble with Mac trying to get out the gate & fence as if he wanted to go and look for Dieter. I ended up having to get a new gate as Mac practically ripped it to pieces.

    Elda

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