Dogs spontaneously process basic numerical quantities, using a distinct part of their brains that corresponds closely to number-responsive neural regions in humans, finds a study at Emory University. Biology Letters published the results, which suggest that a common neural mechanism has been deeply conserved across mammalian evolution.
The study used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to scan dogs’ brains as they viewed varying numbers of dots flashed on a screen. The results showed that the dogs’ parietotemporal cortex responded to differences in the number of the dots. The researchers held the total area of the dots constant, demonstrating that it was the number of the dots, not the size, that generated the response.