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Emotions Study Of Canine Brain Centers


Canine behavior scientists discover that dogs understand our emotions. MRI brain studies proved what pet owners have known for 3,000 years!


February 21, 2014

Stella Starr, Pet Perspectives


They didn't sedate the dogs for the MRI Emotions Study. They trained them to hop up. (Photo by Borbala Ferenczy)One TV station had a guest who explained that “dogs have voice areas in the same part of their brains that humans do. This would indicate that both species can understand vocal tones that express different emotions, like happiness, anger, distress, or fear.


Veterinarian Heather Loenser said "I loved how they actually did the study where they didn't sedate the dogs for the MRI. They trained them to hop up on the MRI, and lay there quietly so they could look at their brain activity."


Perhaps that's why we tend to humanize our pets. We read things into their actions that scientists used to say are not possible - before this dog-emotion study. It took an MRI to shows scientists what pet lovers have always known??!


The personal companion dog clearly recognizes laughter and will respond with perked ears and wagging tail or it will try to comfort an owner who is sobbing in despair.


The mother dog’s expression radiates joy, pride and tender watchfulness as she gazes down at her new treasures. We understand the dog’s emotion as she communicates silently, bending forward, breathing her warmth on each puppy or just touching it with her nose. My cats “kiss” their babies, not just clean them.


So now that science has proven dogs understand our emotions, it makes me wonder about those humans who are so emotionally dead or disturbed that they think animals have no feelings. How can any human express their own twisted emotions by being cruel to animals? {1} Would an MRI study reveal that their brain misfires and fails to properly catalog sounds of pain and distress?


Other than close family and friends, animals are the safest haven for our strongest emotions. We confide our worries and fears to dogs whose eyes and body language clearly say they understand. Cat owners will be the first to say our pets can sense when something is really troubling us. It is clearly cat emotion and empathy when she chin-bumps the owner.


Together the horseman and his horse share the same peaceful emotions.The horseman may pause for a moment before tossing a saddle onto his mount. The early day is glorious and together, he and his horse share the same peaceful emotions, polished by expectancy of a pleasant time together. Likely, he’ll burst into song when there’s just the two of them and the horse will nod, acknowledging he too feels the joy of the moment.


I've lived long enough to know that little dogs don’t like being dressed in baby clothes. They would much rather roll in the grass and race wildly around the yard but somehow, they sense our emotional need to take care of an imaginary child. We might not be comfortable with the thought but in fact, we talk baby talk to our pets, we lift them up as we would a human baby, we tickle them, dote on them.


Sociologists have a complicated explanation for this kind of human behavior but I believe relating to pets makes us better “people”. If in turn, we meet the physical, medical, and emotional needs of our pets, we have actually met our own and should feel really good about that!


{1} Animal Cruelty And Violent Crime Statistics EST 2002 © 142R197



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