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No, Your Dog Doesn’t Really Prefer Your Face, Brain Scans Show | Health News

By Robert Preidt, HealthDay Reporter

(HealthDay)

THURSDAY, Oct. 8, 2020 (HealthDay News) — You may think your dog is gazing lovingly at your face, but a new study suggests that’s not the case.

Hungarian researchers say dogs’ brains may not process faces the same way human brains do.

Faces are such an important part of communication for humans and other primates that faces have a special status in the visual system, and areas in the human brain are specifically activated by faces.

But this study found that dogs don’t have specific face areas in their brains.

The researchers, led by Nóra Bunford of Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, used magnetic imaging to compare the brain activity of 30 humans and 20 pet dogs as they watched brief videos of people and dogs.

The results revealed that human brains had a preference for faces. Some visual areas of human brains showed greater activity in response to a face than to the back of someone’s head. Some of these brain regions also displayed species preference, with increased activity in response to seeing a human compared to a dog.

In contrast, dog brains only showed species preference. There was greater activity when they saw a dog than a person, and there was no difference in brain activity when dogs saw a face than when they saw the back of a head.

The findings were published Oct. 5 in the journal JNeurosci.

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Saint Francis Service Dog in training receives rare root canal

ROANOKE, Va. – A Southwest Virginia dentist operated on a very unusual patient on Friday.

Walker the labrador retriever received a root canal in preparation for his work as a Saint Francis Service Dog.

The procedure is rare, but Saint Francis Service Dogs executive director Caball Youell said it was essential to Walker’s future career.

“His tooth was starting to cause him problems,” Youell said. “He needs to be able to pick things up comfortably, carry things for someone, or retrieve items.”

Walker got his canine tooth repaired at the Roanoke Animal Hospital, but none of the veterinarians there had the capacity to treat a root canal.

“We needed some special equipment and materials to do the root canal, and the dental community stepped up,” said Dr. Mark Finkler of Roanoke Animal Hospital.

Instead, Dr. Grant Throckmorton of Wythe Family Dentistry drove an hour from Wytheville to operate on Walker in Roanoke.

“The tooth is about twice as long as you’ll ever see a human tooth,” Throckmorton said. “They’re just massive. Some of my instruments don’t even work on dog teeth.”

The procedure went well, and Throckmorton finished the job in about an hour.

Youell said she is in the process of finding Walker’s permanent home, and she’s relieved his tooth will no longer cause him trouble.

“He’s going to want to go pick things up and bring them to you,” Youell said. “Whenever you see Walker, he looks around and says, ‘what present can I bring you?’”

Copyright 2020 by WSLS 10 – All rights reserved.

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