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Posted by wmmbb in DOG BLOG -.

Dexter and Hannah have the expectation that they will go out. They know the way. They seem to find scents that are interesting.

At this time of the year the seasonal dialectic between winter and summer is happening. The weather has been both quite cold and quite warm. September was reported globally to be the hottest on record, which on some days was seemingly contradicted by local experience.

Joanna Rothkopf in Salon.com reports that scientific research appears to confirm a similarity in mother’s response to their babies and to dogs – the research subjects for this study. Domesticated dogs are known to go back 32,000 years. She notes:

In this study, researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital sought to directly compare the “functional neuroanatomy of the human-pet bond with that of the maternal-child bond.” To do so, they had women look at photos of their babies and their dogs, as well as babies and dogs that they didn’t know.

“There was a common network of brain regions involved in emotion, reward, affiliation, visual processing and social cognition when mothers viewed images of both their child and dog,” reads the study. The unfamiliar photos didn’t provoke the same reaction.

Virginia Hughes adds:

Of course, we don’t really need a fancy (and expensive) neuroimaging experiment to demonstrate how much dogs mean to their people. . .

Still, the imaging results add some interesting nuance to the dog-human relationship. For example, a brain region known as the fusiform gyrus was activated more when mothers looked at their dogs then when they looked at their kids. This might be because the area is involved in face processing. “Given the primacy of language for human-human communication,” the authors write, “facial cues may be a more central communication device for dog-human interaction.”

Conversely, two areas in the midbrain — the substantia nigra and ventral tegmental area — were active when mothers looked at their children but not when they looked at their pups. These brain areas are lousy with dopamine, oxytocin, and vasopressin, chemicals involved in reward and affiliation. This could mean that these areas are crucial for forming pair bonds within our own species, but not so relevant for the bonds we form with pets.

These results come with the usual caveats for brain imaging studies. It was a small sample of only women, and the brain snapshots were taken at just one point in time.

Mother’s it seems often to me have a remarkable ability to interpret what their young children are saying. Of course, I am puzzled more often than not by the dogs response to stimulus I cannot see. The photos tell as always a separate story, while not full, revealing parts of it often missed. The background music is “Yard Sale” by Silent Partner:

I had not appreciated the Fukushima disaster took place now over three years ago. The lyrics seem to “Don’t Give Up Till Its Over” seem to apply in English and Japanese:

The dogs keep me going.



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