1. Dogs can sense emotion in our voices
The first study to compare human an non-primate brain function has shown that just like humans, dogs have dedicated voice areas in their brains, which are sensitive to acoustic signals of emotion. The findings suggest that these voice areas evolved at least 100 million years ago, the estimated age of the last ancestor shared by dogs and man. Research says this goes a long way towards explaining the unique and long-lasting bond between these species.
In the study, researchers trained 11 dogs to lay motionless while an fMRI brain scanner was carried out. The researchers conducted experiments on the dogs and on human volunteers alike, finding that we have voice areas in similar areas, and that there is a striking similarity in the way we process sounds filled with emotion. In both species, for instance, an area close to the primary auditory cortex lit up more when the dogs and the humans heard happy rather than sad sounds. The researchers said they were most surprised by the similar emotional response to the types of voice.
It now becomes easier to understand why our dogs can be so in tune to how we are feeling, and why they seem to give us affection, attention and sympathy when we most need it.