A fascinating study offers a unique glimpse into how dogs see the world: ScienceAlert

Put cute dogs in MRI machine and watch their brains while that they Watching home movies can seem like a fun time just for fun. As a bonus, it can also be educational.

A team of scientists did just that using machine learning To decode the visual processing that takes place inside the minds of a pair of dogs. Discover a fascinating difference between canine and human perception: dogs are more visually aligned with actions, rather than who or what performs the actions.

This may be an important piece of the canine cognition puzzle, as it reveals the dog’s brain’s priorities when it comes to vision.

“While our work is based on only two dogs, it provides proof of concept that these methods work on canines,” Neuroscientist Erin Phillips says:then from Emory University, and now at Princeton.

“I hope this paper will help pave the way for other researchers to apply these methods to dogs, as well as to other species, so that we can gain more data and greater insights into how the brains of different animals work.”

The research, Phillips noted, was conducted on two dogs, Daisy and Bobo. The team shot three 30-minute videos, using a gimbal and a selfie stick, of dog-specific content. This included dogs walking around, humans interacting with dogs, and giving them pets or treats. Other activities included passing cars, humans interacting with each other, deer crossing the path, cats in a house, and dogs walking on leashes.

Bhubo and his human Ashwin Sakhardande prepare for a movie. Bobo’s ears are taped down to keep noise-reducing earplugs in place, because the MRI is too loud. (Emory Dogs Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory)

These films were shown to Daisy and Bobo in three 30-minute, 90-minute sessions, with unrestricted relaxation in an fMRI machine. This remarkable feat was achieved through the use of training techniques designed by psychologist Gregory Burns, who first managed to perform an MRI of a fully awake, unleashed dog a decade ago.

So the researchers were also able to scan the brains of Daisy and Bobo while they were sitting, awake, alert, and comfortable, in the device, watching home movies made just for them. It looks very cute, actually.

“They didn’t even need sweets,” Phillips says. “It was fun because it’s serious science, and a lot of time and effort has been put into it, but it just came down to these dogs watching videos of other dogs and humans behaving in a ridiculous way.”

Daisy the dog in the fmri machine
Daisy the dog takes his turn in the fMRI machine. Her human, Rebecca Beasley, is not a photographer. (Emory Dogs Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory)

Video data was segmented by timestamps to identify categories such as objects (eg dogs, humans, vehicles, or other animals) or actions (eg sniffing, eating, or playing). This information, along with the two dogs’ brain activity, was fed into a neural network called Ivis that was designed to map brain activity to those classifiers.

Two people also watched the videos while undergoing an MRI; This data was also submitted to Ivis.

The AI ​​was able to map human brain data to classifiers with 99 percent accuracy, for both object and action classifiers. With dogs, Eves was a little more shaky. It didn’t work at all for object classifiers. However, for the procedures, the AI ​​mapped the visual image of brain activity with an accuracy range of 75 to 88 percent.

“We humans are very goal oriented,” Burns says. “There are 10 times as many nouns in the English language because we have an obsession with naming things. Dogs seem less interested in who or what they see and more interested in the action itself.”

He added that dogs have significant differences in the way they perceive the world compared to humans. They distinguish only shades of what we see as blue and yellow parts of the spectrum, but they have a higher density of motion-sensitive vision receptors.

This may be due to dogs needing to be more aware of threats in their environment than humans; or it could have something to do with the dependence on other senses; Or maybe both. Humans are very visually oriented, but for dogs, their sense of smell is the strongest, with a much larger percentage of their brain being devoted to processing olfactory information.

Mapping the brain’s activity to olfactory inputs may be a more difficult experiment to design, but it can also be useful. More detailed research could also be done on the perception of dogs’ vision, and possibly other animals in the future.

“We’ve shown that we can monitor activity in a dog’s brain while they are watching a video and, to at least a limited degree, reconstruct what they are looking at,” Burns says. “The fact that we are able to do this is wonderful.”

The search was published in Visual Experience Magazine.