Study shows dogs are more visually aligned with actions rather than who or what they do

Have you ever wondered what your dog thinks when he’s staring at the TV, seemingly fascinated by News At Ten?

Scientists have discovered that your dog may not be focusing on Huw Edwards specifically, but rather focus more on what people are doing on screen.

Study dogs at Emory University in Georgia, USA, had their brains scanned with an MRI machine while watching a half-hour video of stimulating content.

This included clips of dogs running around, humans interacting with each other, vehicles passing by, and a cat in the house.

Data from magnetic resonance imaging was fed into an artificial intelligence (AI) called Ivis, which linked brain activity to whether an action or object was shown on a screen.

The results showed that dogs are more visually attuned to actions in their environment, rather than who or what is performing those actions.

Scientists have found that dogs are more closely aligned visually with actions in their environment, rather than who or what is doing those actions (arrow image)

Study dogs at Emory University in Georgia, USA, had their brains scanned with an MRI machine while watching a half-hour video of stimulating content.  Pictured: Daisy taking her place in an fMRI scanner.  Her ears are plugged in to fit in earplugs that muffle the device's noise

Study dogs at Emory University in Georgia, USA, had their brains scanned with an MRI machine while watching a half-hour video of stimulating content. Pictured: Daisy taking her place in an fMRI scanner. Her ears are plugged in to fit in earplugs that muffle the device’s noise

Neuroscientist Erin Phillips said: ‘While our work is based on only two dogs, it provides proof of concept that these methods work on canines.

I hope this paper will help pave the way for other researchers to apply these methods to dogs, as well as to other species, so that we can gain more data and greater insights into how the brains of different animals work.

Dogs have only two types of cone cells in their eyes and can only perceive the colors blue and yellow.

This is very different from humans, who have three types of cone cells and can perceive the entire color spectrum.

However, canines also have a higher density of motion-sensitive vision receptors than us.

Scientists believe that dogs can visually perceive the world differently from humans in these ways because they need to be more aware of the threats in their environment.

It could also be because they rely more on their other senses, as while humans are very visually oriented, dogs’ olfactory senses are much stronger.

For the study, dogs specially designed movies were shown in three 30-minute, 90-minute sessions while they were relaxing in an fMRI machine.  A: Example of frames from videos shown to participants.  B: Bhubo, a four-year-old Boxer-mix, watches videos while undergoing fMR awakening

For the study, dogs specially designed movies were shown in three 30-minute, 90-minute sessions while they were relaxing in an fMRI machine. A: Example of frames from videos shown to participants. B: Bhubo, a four-year-old Boxer-mix, watches videos while undergoing fMR awakening

Researchers at the Dog Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory wanted to discover if there were any other differences between how canine and human brains reconstruct what they see.

They recruited Bhubo, a four-year-old Boxer-mix, and Daisy, an 11-year-old female Boston terrier-mix, to participate in a study.

Both dogs have been trained to enter and lie inside the fMRI machine without restrictions, so They were able to scan their brains while awake and alert.

“They didn’t even need treats!” Mrs. Phillips said.

For the study, tailored films of Daisy and Bhubo were shown in three 30-minute, 90-minute sessions while they were relaxing in an fMRI machine.

The films contained videos that the researchers thought the dog might find interesting enough to watch for a long time.

They were photographed by the researchers using a gimbal – a pivoting camera support – and a selfie stick to allow them to shoot shots from a “dog’s perspective”.

The clips showed dogs walking around and humans interacting with the dogs, giving them pets or treats, or waving a toy toward the camera itself.

Other activities included passing cars, people hugging or eating, deer crossing the road, cats in the house, and dogs walking on leashes.

While the dogs were watching their movies, an MRI scan of their brains was taken to visualize the neural activity.

“It’s been fun because it’s serious science, and a lot of time and effort has been put into it, but it’s up to these dogs watching videos of other dogs and humans behaving in a ridiculous way,” Ms Phillips said.

For comparison, two people were shown videos while lying in an fMRI machine and under examination.

The films contained videos that the researchers thought the dog might find interesting enough to watch for a long time.  Pictured: Bobo and his human being Ashwin Sakhardandi preparing for a movie

The films contained videos that the researchers thought the dog might find interesting enough to watch for a long time. Pictured: Bobo and his human being Ashwin Sakhardandi preparing for a movie

Brain regions important for distinguishing between objects and actions that were used to train the AI ​​of participants (A) and dogs (B)

Brain regions important for distinguishing between objects and actions that were used to train the AI ​​of participants (A) and dogs (B)

The differences between how humans and dogs see things

color Dogs have only two types of cone cells in their eyes and can only perceive blue and yellow. Humans It has three types of cone cells and can visualize the entire color spectrum.

Motion detection Dogs have a higher density of motion-sensitive vision receptors than humans.

Visualize actions and things The results of this study show that dogs are more attuned to the actions than the things they perform, while humans do not prioritize either.

Scientists believe that these differences are because dogs should be better able to detect dangers in their environment, and be more dependent on their strong senses of smell than humans.

Then, the video data was segmented by timestamps, and each clip was given workbooks to determine what was on screen at the time.

The works included things, such as dogs, humans, vehicles, or other animals, or actions, such as sniffing, eating, or playing

This information, along with MRI data for dogs and humans, was entered into the Ivis neural network, and the results were published this week in the Journal of Visualized Experiments.

Ivis was trained to map brain activity with the two classifiers, which was able to do both with 99 percent accuracy using human data.

However, it was only successful in finding correlations with work-based classifiers of dog data, and it did so with an accuracy of between 75 and 88 percent.

This suggests that dogs’ brains prioritize what’s going on in front of them over who or what’s involved—a stark difference in how the human brain works.

Corresponding author Professor Gregory Burns said: “We humans have something special about it.”

There are 10 times as many nouns in the English language because we have an obsession with naming things.

Dogs seem to be less interested in who or what they see and more in the act itself.

He added: “It makes sense that dogs’ brains are highly attuned to actions first and foremost.

Animals should pay close attention to the things that happen in their environment to avoid eating them or to keep an eye on animals they might want to hunt.

“Work and movement are of paramount importance.”

In the future, the researchers want to map brain activity with olfactory input, since dogs have a much larger percentage of their brain dedicated to processing olfactory information.

They would also like to do more detailed research on the perception of seeing dogs, and possibly other animals.

Professor Burns said: ‘We’ve shown that we can monitor activity in a dog’s brain while they are watching a video and, at least to a limited degree, reconstruct what they are looking at.

“The fact that we are able to do this is amazing.”

Dogs can ‘see’ with their noses: Scientists discover new link between smell and vision in pet dogs’ brains

A new study has found that dogs may use their highly sensitive noses to “see” as well as smell.

Researchers have discovered a “broad pathway” in the brains of pet dogs that connects regions that handle smell and vision.

This allows dogs to have a great sense of direction and awareness even when they can’t see – showing how some blind dogs can play fetch.

A strong sense of smell may help dogs detect and distinguish between different objects and obstacles, even if they are blind.

The new study provides the first evidence that dogs’ sense of smell is integrated with their vision and other unique parts of the brain.

Read more here

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