Dogs have brain regions to process numbers like human numbers

Dogs also have a region of the brain responsible for processing numerical quantities, at least the basic ones, similar to humans. This is the statement contained in a study that appeared in Biology Letters and carried out by researchers at Emory University including Lauren Aulet, PhD student and first author of the study.

Gregory Berns, professor of psychology and senior author of the study, states that this study shows that dogs use part of their brain to process the number of objects. They cannot naturally do arithmetic operations of any kind, but they process object numbers just as humans do, and they don’t even need to be trained to do so, indicating that it is an innate brain characteristic.

This research, according to Stella Lourenco, associate professor of psychology at the same university, may prove useful not only to understand the brain mechanisms of dogs but also to understand that of humans, insights that could also lead to practical applications including those related to the treatment of brain abnormalities as well as those for the improvement of systems equipped with artificial intelligence.

To reach these conclusions, researchers used functional MRI scans of dogs’ brains while observing variable amounts of flashing dots on a screen. The researchers found that the animals’ parietotemporal cortex responded differently depending on the number of dots on the screen.

This is the ability to roughly but very quickly estimate the amount of objects observed, a key feature, for example, to understand the number of approaching predators or to understand the amount of food available in front of you.

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