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How do dogs actually see the world?


What if tomorrow we could read our dogs’ minds? We are not there. But researchers still offer us today, for the first time, a glimpse of how the mind of dogs reconstructs what it sees. No offense to our ego, our best friends seem more interested in the actions we do than in our little people!

Quite recently, scientists have learned to decode the human brain’s processing of visual stimuli. Thanks to the artificial intelligence artificial intelligence (IA) and to Magnetic resonance imaging Magnetic resonance imaging functional. The latter, in fact, makes it possible to visualize the cerebral activity of conscious subjects. And coupled with the AI, it gives access, in a way, to what the subject is looking at without even having to ask him. A very scientific way of ” read minds “.

This is precisely why researchers wanted to test the technique on a few animals. Primates, of course. But also dogs. To finally understand how animals think. And canine neuroscientists from Emory University (USA) are today publishing the first results. Results that show how our best friend’s mind interprets what it sees.

This very preliminary work has so far only been able to be carried out on two dogs. But two wide-awake dogs. Trained beforehand to enter a scanner and stay still there, without needing to be restrained. The researchers recorded neural MRI data as the dogs in question watched videos. Then they applied a machine learning algorithm to analyze said data. They have thus succeeded, at least to some extent, in reconstructing how dogs see the world.

Basic differences between dogs and humans

Wondering what those videos showed? Quite simply images of the daily life of a dog. Dogs receiving treats, sniffing each other, playing or walking on a leash. But also carscars, bicycles, cats or deer. And of course humans hugging, eating, or throwing a ball at a dog. All timestamped by classifiers based on ” objects “ – a dog, a ball, a human -, on the one hand, and on actions – sniffing, playing, eating – on the other.

For comparison, two humans participated in the same experiment. And precisely, the results obtained by researchers from Emory University suggest major differences in the functioning of the brain of humans and dogs. “We humans are very object-oriented” said Gregory Berns, professor of psychology, in a press release. “If there are ten times more nouns than verbs in English, it’s probably because we have a particular obsession with naming objects. Dogs, on the other hand, seem less concerned with who or what they see and more concerned with the action itself. »

Dog brains process speech like humans

A not very surprising result when we know that dogs have a slightly higher density of visual receptors designed to detect movements than humans. When you are an animal, you have to worry about what is happening in your environment, to avoid unpleasant surprises. Action then seems essential.

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