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Biology article report summary

Kent Jones

March 5, 2015

Voice Sensitive Regions in the Dog and Human Brain are

Revealed by Comparative fMRI

Human and dog voices are familiar to one another since

the domestication of dogs, regardless of how distant we are in evolutionary

taxa. Because of this fact, comparative fMRIs have been taken to find if the
voice and communication regions may show evidence that we are closer to
evolutionary origins than we originally knew. This will also point to interesting
suggestions showing that dogs could have emotions similar to humans, and
similarities in how we communicate.

Materials and methods used

Training and Instructions given

This procedure involved ten dogs,

five collies, and the other five golden retrievers. The dogs MRIs were then
compared to twenty-two humans. Training the dogs to hold completely still
was done by rewarding one experienced dog by resting its head in the MRI
machine and rewarding him while the other less experienced dog watched.
This made the other dogs learn quickly to hold still while the MRI was taken.


A unrestraint strap was placed over the top of their heads,

while a firm pillow was placed below their jaws to help lower the amount of
movement. Treats were given at the completion of each MRI taken. The
humans and the dogs were instructed to lay motionless in the MRI scanner
for three to six minute runs. While the MRI was being taken, both the dogs

Biology article report summary

Kent Jones

March 5, 2015

and humans listened to an identical set of stimuli with included three

different sound types: human vocalization, dog vocalizations, non-vocal
environmental sounds, and a silent baseline. These three sound types had an
emotional range from highly negative to highly positive.

Results and Discussion

Similar Sound-Sensitive Brain Regions

Both dogs and humans

were found to have very similar brain regions. These regions are the auditory
cortex and sub cortex regions. Stated in the article Sound sensitivity in dogs
was localized in persylvian regions, including the SG along the SF and the
ESG along the ESS, and extending dorsally to the SSS. This fit the human
brain as well. Found in the human brain was STS in in the IFC. In both
species auditory activity extended ventrally towards the TP, i.e., the most
basal part of the SG in dogs, and the anterior tip of the temporal lobe.
Although the comparative part of the brain was very similar, it showed that
size was a large issue. The dogs localized auditory regions total size was
12cm3, while the human brain was much larger at 95cm3.

Difference Between Dog and Human Auditory Regions


were shown to have specific spots within the regions of their brain that were
maximized for communication for their own species, this made up about 39%
of all auditory, communication with response to human communication
voices were at 13%, with the majority of their auditory regions for non-vocal
sounds were at 48%. This showed that dogs responded most when they were

Biology article report summary

Kent Jones

March 5, 2015

hearing non-vocal environmental sounds, second they responded most to

their own species sound, and the least of their auditory regions responded to
the sound of the human voice.
Humans were shown to have these same regions, but their response was
drastically different. Humans auditory regions were maximal for the sound of
other human voice sounds at 87%, while the most they were able to respond
to dog voices was at 10%, and the response for non-vocal environmental
sounds was at a 3%. This showed that humans communicate best with each
other, we have a low response to dog voices, and respond very little to
environmental sounds.
This shows that auditory regions of the brain, regardless of species, are
tuned to familiar and specific sounds that are specific to each species.
Although humans are able to communicate in a very different way from dogs.
The human brain has a subcortical section of their brain that specifically
works in identifying varying spectrotemporal features of vocal sounds. This is
what gives humans the ability to talk and communicate with each other. This
region of the human brain also showed that it responded to the sound of the
dog voice as well. This explains why humans responded much more to dog
voices (at 10%) than non-vocal environmental sounds (at 3%).

Emotional Sensitive Regions of the Brain

Emotional sensitive

areas were found in both the dog and human brain. The findings found that
humans responded to the effect of emotional sounds, including dogs and

Biology article report summary

Kent Jones

March 5, 2015

humans. Dogs also responded to effects of emotional sounds from both

species as well, but they responded much more to human vocalizations than
the humans responded to dog vocalizations. This implies that dogs are much
more emotionally tied to the human species, than the human species are to

Evolutionary History These findings show strong evidence that the human
species may be much closer related in the evolutionary sense than earlier
assumed. Originally it was assumed that dogs were separated by humans
over some 100 million years ago, while this evidence shows that it may be
much closer than that.

Emotional Findings Research done through these MRIs also shows that
dogs experience emotions very similar to how humans do. Being so similarly
close in emotions shows that humans and dogs are able to relate with each
other on a deeper emotional level than was assumed.


Although humans have a specific region of their

brain that processes acoustical communication that allows them to speak

and communicate more clearly, evidence was found that humans and dogs
communicate in very similar ways, with specific regions of the brain that
process sounds and the meaning behind these sounds, emotionally, vocal,
and non-vocal sounds, including within, and outside the species barrier.