Poster F32, Tuesday, March 28, 8:00 – 10:00 am, Pacific Concourse
Into the Dogs' Brain: How Do Their Brains Process Emotional Human Faces?
Laura V. Cuaya1, Raúl Hernández-Pérez1, Luis Concha1; 1Institute of Neurobiology, National Autonomous University of México
Dogs are a unique model to study face perception because dogs can extract useful information from dog and human faces. Our goals were to describe the cerebral correlate of the perception of 1) dog faces, 2) neutral human faces and 3) happy human faces. We acquired functional images (TR/TE = 1750/30 ms, 2x2x3 mm3 resolution, 110 volumes) of eight pet dogs trained to remain still. We acquired five independent runs for each experimental condition in a block design of (1) dog faces vs. objects, (2) neutral human faces vs. objects and, (3) happy vs. neutral human faces. We found that (1) dog face perception was related with the temporal and occipital cortex and the cerebellum. (2) human face perception involved the temporal and frontal cortex, the thalamus and the caudate. A conjunction analysis found a posterior-anterior pattern of cerebral response: occipital cortex to all stimuli, temporal cortex to all faces and frontal cortex only to human faces. The processing of happy human faces (3) involved the temporal and frontal cortex as well the caudate. All results are cluster corrected. Our findings highlight the importance of temporal cortex in face processing. The activity in the frontal cortex could be the brain correlate of the differential behavioral responses that dogs show towards human faces. The activity in the caudate suggests that dogs find human faces (particularly happy faces) as rewarding stimuli. We believe that this study contributes to a better understanding of the dog social cognition.
Topic Area: EMOTION & SOCIAL: Person perception