In a fascinating study from the University of Eotvos Lorànd, researchers from the Department of Ethology have explored how dogs interpret human gestures, comparing them with children. The results of this research have revealed that dogs 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” refers to 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 study has delved into this difference in depth, revealing that it is not just a matter of vision, but reflects the way dogs think.
Researchers tested 82 dogs in behavioral tasks evaluating their ability to learn the location of a reward relative to the characteristics of an object. They found that “smarter” dogs learned faster, suggesting a connection between their cognitive abilities and their ability to interpret information in more detail. To understand whether spatial bias was related to sensory or cognitive issues, 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 had a reduced “spatial bias.” This suggests that our furry friends’ ability to interpret information goes beyond simple vision, leading us to new perspectives on understanding how they think. Overall, this study sheds light on the minds of our four-legged companions and provides insight into their complex cognitive abilities.