Is the Canine-Human bond really a better love story than Twilight? Brain Scans reveal interesting new results!

‘A dog is an animal capable of loving you more than he even loves himself’, said almost every dog person ever. But, can you be entirely sure that what your dog feels is love? I mean, he doesn’t talk so can you assume that he loves you?

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Recently scientists performed a few brain scans on dogs to get to the bottom of this and discover whether it’s the truth or just a myth. Read on to find out about the results.

1 The dog-human love story

The human-canine bond is a mutually beneficial and very dynamic relationship, that has been studied and analyzed by psychologists, anthropologists etc. Humans and dogs have been sharing a wonderful bond since time immemorial. Humans provide dogs with food, shelter, warmth and care and in return, dogs prove to be excellent companions for humans, providing security and also bringing joy into the human being’s life.

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Dogs are probably the most common and actually the favorite pet to be owned all around the world. In fact, calling them as ‘pets’ sounds like we’re distancing them too much, and most dog lovers prefer to refer to them as family.

Dogs warm up to humans like no other, and can have such an impact on a human and his life. This relationship dates back to over 30,000 years ago, and is still going strong.

The dog-human love story

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We absolutely adore our dogs, no questions asked. Also, from the way dogs wag their tails at us, snuggle up in our laps and lick our faces, we tend to assume that they’re reciprocating the feelings. But what better way to prove this than science!

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2 Brain Scans on dogs at Emory University, Atlanta

Can those button cute puppy dog eyes be deceiving us into believing that our dogs actually love us? A group of researchers at the Emory University wanted to get to the bottom of this once and for all. Animal cognition scientists trained twelve dogs of ten breeds to lay still inside an MRI machine that made use of fMRI to measure their neural responses to various scents.

They were exposed to scents of strangers, of people they knew and of other dogs, and the responses were recorded. This method was used to instigate reactions as the sense of smell is the strongest sense in dogs, as pointed out by the scientists at the University.

Brain Scans on dogs at Emory University, Atlanta

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3 Results from the brain scans on dogs

The results of the brain scans on dogs recorded sparked activity in the ‘reward center’ or the caudate nucleus, in the brain of the dogs. The activity was much more prominent when the dogs reacted to the scent of their owner, as compared to the other scents.

The caudate nucleus has multifarious functions in the human brain, but one of its prime functions is to react to visual beauty. The caudate nucleus is said to be highly active in humans during the initial stages of love.
Hence, can we conclude that the human-dog love affair isn’t inclined to one side, and that our dogs love us back indeed? I suppose we can.

Results from the brain scans on dogs

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4 Similar studies

Researcher Attila Andics of Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest stated that it’s not just olfaction that dogs respond to well. Sometimes dogs can respond to the mood of a person as detected from his/her voice. About their study, Andics and his colleagues said that this was the first comparative neuroimaging study done on a non-primate species and humans. The study was done to basically study the brain activity of dogs in response to sounds made by humans and even dogs. Surprisingly, it was found that the brains of the dogs actually processed vocal sounds full of emotions in the same manner as the brains of humans usually do. In fact, the auditory cortex lighted up in dogs as well as humans after hearing happy sounds. This speaks volumes about the strong communication bond that humans and dogs share.

Similar studies

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In an another similar study concluded, it was found that if the dogs legitimately love their owners, there is a need to look at his/her owner straight in the eye. It’s another factor that can strongly determine whether or not your dog really has authentic feelings towards you.

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Now you know, that they actually do love us like we do, no wonder they are our best friends and the best companions.

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