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Faces more important for humans than dogs

By AFP - Oct 17,2020 - Last updated at Oct 17,2020

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BUDAPEST — Faces are more im-portant for humans than dogs, according to a brain activity study on how the two species see each other in a recently published study by a team of Hungarian and Mexican re-searchers.

"The brain imaging findings in the study sug-gest that faces may be of crucial importance to humans and probably other primates, but not to all mammals, for example not for dogs," Attila Andics, who led the study at Eotvos Lorand university in Budapest, told AFP. 

"The two species differ in their visual com-munication and this is reflected in their brains," he said. 

A team of Hungary- and Mexico-based re-searchers compared how dog and human brains process visual information.

They used scanners to monitor 30 humans and 20 dogs while they looked at short video clips of dog and human faces, and the backs of heads. 

The brain response results showed that a large part of the human brain's neural network re-sponds more to faces than non-faces in the videos. Only a small part responded more to human than dog images. 

In dogs' brains however, no parts responded more to faces but some parts responded more to dog images than human images, said the study, published in the Journal of Neurosci-ence.

"Faces are very central for human visual communication, we possess a dedicated large neural network for face processing when we meet someone," Andics told AFP. 

Previous research has shown that dogs also pay attention to faces, excel at eye contact and at reading facial emotion, but also rely on signals such as the other dog's tail or body posture to communicate.

"When we meet someone we look at faces mostly," said Andics. 

"Other signals are also important for humans but the proportions are different than with dogs, when two dogs meet there is no clear focus on faces," he said.

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