A Face to Remember

IMG_3608I am always puzzled by humans being so surprised when science proves how smart dogs are. The latest research that has come to light is that dogs can recognize faces. Duh, how do you think I find Doc in a crowd or know what dogs I like to hang out with?

So, the researchers at Emory University down south in Atlanta trained six of my canine cousins to enter an MRI machine and stay very still without sedation. Apparently there is a specialized region of the brain in the temporal cortex where all face recognition takes place. Up until now, this has only been documented in humans and other tree swinging primates.

While in the MRI the dogs were shown videos of faces and then every day objects while their brains were scanned.  What they found is that the dog’s brains show greater activity when they saw the videos of human faces. And that’s not all. Another study at the University of Helsinki  found that “dogs are more likely to fix their gaze on a familiar face than that of a stranger.” But they also found that what really catches our attention, is looking at images of other dogs. We looked at those images longer than those of the human faces. It’ why I run to the TV screen when ever a cute dog comes on.

Dogs have been living with humans longer than any other animal. We socialize with you and other species, learn to adapt to your life, sometimes work for you, play with you, love you unconditionally and protect you. But some of you take all of this for granted by saying “well it’s just a dog.” Even though I am only a dog, I am more aware than you realize and I look to you for love and protection in return. But you didn’t need scientific research to know that.