Voice-Sensitive Regions in the Dog and Human Brain Are Revealed by Comparative fMRI (Current Biology, 20 February 2014, DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.01.058) – Video Abstract

– How Dogs Know What You’re Feeling

– Human and dog brains both have dedicated ‘voice areas’
The first study to compare brain function between humans and any non-primate animal shows that dogs have dedicated voice areas in their brains, just as people do. Dog brains, like those of people, are also sensitive to acoustic cues of emotion, according to a new study.

1. Voice-Sensitive Regions in the Dog and Human Brain Are Revealed by Comparative fMRI
Current Biology, 20 February 2014, DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.01.058

This is the first comparative neuroimaging study of a nonprimate species and humans
Functional analogies were found between dog and human nonprimary auditory cortex
Voice areas preferring conspecific vocalizations were evidenced in the dog brain
Brain sensitivity to vocal cues of emotional valence was found in both species

During the approximately 18–32 thousand years of domestication, dogs and humans have shared a similar social environment. Dog and human vocalizations are thus familiar and relevant to both species, although they belong to evolutionarily distant taxa, as their lineages split approximately 90–100 million years ago. In this first comparative neuroimaging study of a nonprimate and a primate species, we made use of this special combination of shared environment and evolutionary distance. We presented dogs and humans with the same set of vocal and nonvocal stimuli to search for functionally analogous voice-sensitive cortical regions. We demonstrate that voice areas exist in dogs and that they show a similar pattern to anterior temporal voice areas in humans. Our findings also reveal that sensitivity to vocal emotional valence cues engages similarly located nonprimary auditory regions in dogs and humans. Although parallel evolution cannot be excluded, our findings suggest that voice areas may have a more ancient evolutionary origin than previously known.



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