We sometimes interact and talk to our dogs as if they understand us — as if they are also thinking the way we humans do. But do dogs really also think?
For years, scientists have been interested and have conducted several studies to explore on what is happening in a dog’s brain. Scientific research conducted by various experts have shown that dogs indeed have the capability to think. These researches looked into the dog’s brain structures and functions, in comparison to human brains, to find out what goes on in the mind of man’s best friend.
MRI studies have shown that brains of dogs and humans are structurally similar, and that the same sections of the both the dog’s and human’s brains light up when exposed to a variety of stimuli. However, dog brains are smaller than human brains, when compared to overall body mass. Human brains also have more folds, which means more surface area, and our prefrontal cortex is far way more developed than dogs. These findings suggest that humans undoubtedly have higher level processing and thoughts, but dogs, although not as complex, have also the capacity to think.
A study published in the Animal Cognition journal showed that dogs can understand simple calculations. Another new research showed that dogs understand language, too, and can even learn 165 words at an average. Dogs also have the impressive capacity to learn about humans – responding to gestures, attending to body language, and following gaze to figure out what humans are looking at. In the journal Biology Letters, a study even found out that dogs are susceptible to repeating human yawns.
Dr. Sackman, PhD in molecular and cellular biology, a veterinary clinician in behavioral medicine, said that dogs probably have the level of cognition of a human aged around three to five years old. Like humans, dogs respond to familiar voices, and are superb in deciding whether someone is a friend or an enemy. They can also tell the objects we point at to show them, and can impressively tell whether one bowl has more treats than the other.
Just as it is impossible to read what exactly another human is thinking, it is also not possible to speculate what dogs are thinking. However, what has been discovered through thorough and scientific research, is obviously, there is something going on in dog brains — that they are capable of thinking also.
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