Selective breeding of dogs is a pioneer of the British in the Victorian era, when many genuinely believe in eugenics as a means of "purifying" and improving both humans and animals. Beyond its ideologically horrifying roots, breeding has had all the unintended consequences for dogs, especially from chronic breed-related illnesses to temperamental problems to early death for some breeds.
For better or worse, we live in a world of Victorians: we still think of dogs as breeds, instead of thinking of the "mutts" as normal, genetically average dogs and purebreds as weird, native aberrations. In this way, we are used to maintaining stereotypes for different breeds that go beyond appearance: Golden retrievers are decent family dogs, while chihuahuas are neurotic.
But are these traits real, imaginary or culturally specific? Recently, researchers have begun to understand exactly this ̵
"The first question we wanted to ask was: are the brains of different breeds of dogs different? "Erin Hecht, a neurologist studying dog familiarity at Harvard University and lead author of the study, told the Washington Post.
In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers published their findings in the Journal of Neuroscience found that different breeds have different brain organizations as a result of human breeding, which means that dogs' skills are different and are caused by their different neuroanatomy.
For example, "the herd is really in the brains of border cars," Hecht tells StatNews, "and these findings give us "
Hecht and her colleagues analyzed the NMR scan of 62 purebred dogs representing 33 breeds. Through this analysis, they identified six brain networks – the structure of the dog's brain – that are most common in breeds. , but who also have neuroanatomical differences. What they find is that brain differences have been linked to behavioral differences in different breeds.
For example, there is a brain network that causes the brain to react strongly to reward, such as treats that maintain social attachment. While dogs are already linking treatment to the people who give them, in the Terriers this network is particularly well developed, according to the study.
"These results establish that brain anatomy varies greatly in dogs, probably because of the behavioral selection applied by humans," the authors wrote. "We have found that brain anatomy significantly correlates with behavioral specializations such as vision hunting, scent hunting, guarding and camaraderie." Until the Border Collies are born to know how to flock, their brains are prepared to learn. Hecht likened this to how human children are brought to a certain extent to learn a language.
"They [the Border Collies] shall be exposed to sheep; there are some trainings. Learning plays a crucial role, but there is clearly something about the flock that is already in their brain when they are born, "Hecht said. "This is not innate behavior, it is a prerequisite to learn this behavior."
Hecht told the Harvard Gazette that there were some surprises in their research. In particular, they found that scent-hunting was not related to the anatomy of the olfactory bulb, which is part of the brain that smells. "Rather, this skill was associated with higher-order regions that are involved in more complex aspects of flavor processing," she says.
"It's not that the brain can recognize if the aroma is there. It's about having the nervous machine to decide what to do with that information, "Hecht adds.
Hecht said that understanding the connection between brain wiring and learned behavior "can tell us something about our own brains and how it happens" in humans, too.