Sorry, but your dog doesn’t appreciate the beauty of your face, says study

According to a recent study, unlike people, your dog’s brain doesn’t care about your face.

According to an online survey of more than 27,000 people across 22 countries conducted by global research firm GfK, around 56 percent of the world’s population internationally have at least one pet living with them. Surely you know someone who empathises with their dogs or cats more than they do with other humans, while some people even love their pets more than they love any other human. But do you know that four-legged friends don’t feel the same way about you?

A new research has found that dogs aren’t really impressed by faces. The study reveals that dogs’ brains are equally as excited by our faces as they are by the backs of our heads. The researchers have also found that dogs can really not appreciate the beauty of your face. Though dogs have this ability to read human emotions, the new study found that dog brains don’t have a specific region that activates when they’re shown a face.

According to a brain activity study on how the two species see each other published by a team of Hungarian and Mexican researchers, “Faces are more important for humans than dogs.” The brain imaging findings in the study suggest that faces may be of crucial importance to humans and probably other primates, but not to all mammals, for example not for dogs.

Humans rely on facial cues to gather information, and we have a special area of our brains that activates when we view a face. But the new study shows that dogs don’t quite process human faces in the same way. They read emotions from faces and they can recognise people from the face alone, but other bodily signals seem to be similarly informative to them.

In the study, published this week in the Journal of Neuroscience, researchers presented 20 pet dogs with an array of two-second videos that showed either the front or back of a human or dog head.  The dogs were shown the videos while lying still inside an MRI, allowing scientists to spy on their brain activity. In order to compare dogs’ brains with a human brain, the researchers showed the same videos to around 30 people.

Predictably, the human brains showed a flurry of activity in the visual centre when shown a face of either a person or a dog and were comparatively restrained when only the back of a head was visible. The brains of the pet dogs, on the other hand, showed no increase in activity when being shown a face compared to the back of a human or dog’s head. The difference in the activity between the brains of humans and dogs suggested that dogs’ brains are equally as excited by our faces as they are by the backs of our heads.

The group of researchers also found that dogs cared more about seeing other dogs than they did about seeing faces, human or otherwise.

Dogs care more about seeing other dogs:

During the research, researchers with the help of data found that humans and dogs both prefer gazing at members of their own species. The dogs’ brains were more active when they saw another dog, compared to when they saw a person. The humans’ brains, too, were more active when they saw a person than a dog.

Previous researches have shown that dogs also pay attention to faces, excel at eye contact, and at reading facial emotion, but also rely on signals such as the other dog’s tail or body posture to communicate.

There are aspects of dogs’ brains that are somewhat similar to human brains. In a study published in the month of August, it was found that dogs understand verbal communication just as we do, parsing out tone and then meaning as separate aspects of human speech. Just as human brains divide the work of processing the communication between the left and right hemispheres of the brain, dogs understand tone first, then meaning, in the same order as humans. 

The authors of the study examined the brain activity of 12 pet dogs – six border collies, five golden retrievers, and one German shepherd, using fMRI. The study revealed that dogs listen to known praise words like “clever,” “well done,” and “that’s it”, as well as unknown words like “as if” and “yet” in both praising and neutral tones.

Dogs can read emotions from your face:

Have you ever noticed that your dog stares at you, and it seems like it’s reading your emotions?  Well, it actually is reading them. A study suggests that dogs read expressions the way humans do, starting with the eyes. Like us, dogs start with the eyes and spend longer on them than on other features, suggesting that “eyes play a significant role in the face perception of dogs.”

Dogs read expressions the way humans do, starting with the eyes.

The study also showed that dogs reacted differently to the various expressions, but their behaviour also changed depending on whether they were viewing another dog or a human. 

It should also be noted that the results of the study that dogs don’t care much about human faces shouldn’t be taken to mean that dogs aren’t capable of seeing or caring about-faces because the study only measured the animals’ brain responses, not their behaviour.

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