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Voice-sensitive region in the dog! 

...reported by the authors of the first fMRI study comparing humans and a non primate species 

Andics and colleagues conducted a study looking at how humans and dogs (who notably share a similar social environment) respond to human vocalizations, dog vocalizations as well as nonvocal environmental sounds.

The study's major finding is that dogs, just as humans and non-human primates, have a voice sensitive area (= a region that responds most strongly to conspecific sounds and less to heterospecific sounds or nonvocal sounds). In dogs, this region was located near the temporal pole, in a similar region as the anterior human voice area.

In addition, the authors observed regions sensitive to emotional valence in both species.

The authors also found important differences across species, which I found very interesting:

In dogs, of all auditory voxels: 39% responded to dog vocalizations, 13% to human vocal sounds and 48% to non vocal sounds

In humans, of all auditory voxels: 87% respond to human vocalizations, only 10% to dog vocalizations and a mere 3% to environmental non vocal sounds. This illustrates well the central role played by human vocalizations!

This study has many people discussing attributes of man's best friend… and scientists thinking about future studies.


Andics et al., Voice-Sensitive Regions in the Dog and Human Brain Are Revealed by Comparative fMRI, Current Biology (2014), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2014.01.058



Reader Comments (1)

Awesome, Nicole. In my strolling commute from Simches (Boston) to Charlestown I often pass a professional dog walker who successfully wrangles 8-10 animals consecutively in Paul Revere park. Here, they all run FREELY until the walker BARKS! They all run to her side to continue their on-leash tour! I wonder if there is a distinct region activated by a human vocalizing as a dog...

March 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAl

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