Dogs’ sense of smell integrated with vision

Canines’ olfaction is combined with their sight in terms of how they learn about their environment, Cornell researchers say

Researchers in the university’s College of Veterinary Medicine have discovered dogs’ sense of smell is integrated with their vision and other unique parts of the brain. Photo ©BigStockPhoto.comWhile most humans suspect may dogs have their own way of navigating the world, a new Cornell-conducted study confirms this is true.

Researchers in the university’s College of Veterinary Medicine have discovered dogs’ sense of smell is integrated with their vision and other unique parts of the brain.

Specifically, canines’ olfaction is combined with their sight in terms of how they learn about their environment and orient themselves in it, says the study’s senior author, Pip Johnson, BVSc., CertVDI, DipECVDI, MSc., MRCVS, assistant professor of clinical sciences at Cornell.

“When we walk into a room, we primarily use our vision to work out where the door is, who’s in the room, where the table is,” she says. “Whereas, in dogs, this study shows olfaction is really integrated with vision in terms of how they learn about their environment and orient themselves in it.”

The findings corroborate Dr. Johnson’s clinical experience with blind dogs and their abilities, Cornell reports.

“[These dogs] can still play fetch and navigate their surroundings much better than humans with the same condition,” she says. “Knowing there’s that information freeway going between those two areas could be hugely comforting to owners of dogs with incurable eye diseases.”

The findings have been published in The Journal of Neuroscience. For more, click here.

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