Do dogs have favorite scents? They do! In Atlanta’s Emory University, experts and researchers conducted a study using an MRI that could examine a dog’s brainwaves. Here’s what they found, according to the published paper in the journal Behavioural Process.
This research involved 12 dogs, five therapy dogs, and a dog owned by the study leader. Each dog was made to smell scented pads that each had five scents while their brains were under MRI. None of their parents were present during their turns. The scents used were:
- The scent of their parent
- Their own scent
- The scent of a fellow dog housemate
- The scent of an unknown human
- The scent of an unknown dog
When the dogs smelled something familiar, their caudate nucleus – a certain area of the brain – had high level of activity, to the point of similarity as when a dog greets you when you come home. They were easily able to pick up familiar scents among many other unfamiliar ones. For the four different scents, they did not have a strong reaction – only with their parent’s scent.
Research revealed that the dogs are naturally attuned to the scents of familiar dogs but are also very enthusiastic and energetic for their humans, likely due to a reward response – they associate humans with playtime, food, comfort, and friendship!
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