Dogs process faces in specialized brain area, study reveals

By Carol Clark | eScienceCommons | Aug. 5, 2015

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The dogs were trained to view both video images and static images on a screen while undergoing fMRI. Photo by Gregory Berns.

Dogs have a specialized region in their brains for processing faces, a new study finds. PeerJ published the research, which provides the first evidence for a face-selective region in the temporal cortex of dogs.

“Our findings show that dogs have an innate way to process faces in their brains, a quality that has previously only been well-documented in humans and other primates,” says Gregory Berns, a neuroscientist at Emory University and the senior author of the study.

Having neural machinery dedicated to face processing suggests that this ability is hard-wired through cognitive evolution, Berns says, and may help explain dogs’ extreme sensitivity to human social cues.

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