In a study from the University of Eotvos Lorànd, researchers from the Department of Ethology examined how dogs interpret human gestures, comparing them with children. The discovery? The “smartest” dogs appear to pay attention not only to the location of an object but also to its appearance, suggesting a similarity in information processing to humans.
The phenomenon, known as “spatial bias”, concerns the interpretation of information in relation to space. For example, when we show children and dogs the location of an object, children interpret the gesture as an indication of the object while dogs take it as a direction.
This difference was explored in depth by a specific study that tested 82 dogs in behavioral tasks evaluating the time taken to learn the location of a reward relative to the characteristics of an object. Research has revealed that “smarter” dogs learn faster, suggesting a connection between their cognitive abilities and their ability to interpret information in more detail.
To understand whether this spatial bias is related to a sensory or cognitive issue, researchers measured the dogs’ head length, which correlates with visual acuity and subjected them to cognitive tests. The results showed that Dogs with better visual and cognitive abilities showed a reduced ‘spatial bias’. This suggests that our four-legged friends are capable of interpreting information beyond simple vision.
In conclusion, this study sheds light on the minds of our furry companions, offering new insights into how they think and process information.