A recent study from the University of Eotvos Lorànd has shed light on how dogs interpret human gestures, comparing them with children. The researchers from the Department of Ethology found that 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 this specific study.
To understand whether this “spatial bias” is related to a sensory or cognitive issue, the researchers tested 82 dogs in behavioral tasks evaluating the time taken to learn the location of a reward relative to the characteristics of an object. The results showed that “smarter” dogs learn faster, suggesting a connection between their cognitive abilities and the ability to interpret information in more detail.
Furthermore, to measure visual acuity and subjected them to cognitive tests, researchers found that Dogs with better visual and cognitive abilities showed a ‘spatial bias’ more reduced.
In conclusion, this study highlights that our furry friends have complex minds and their ability to interpret information goes beyond simple vision. It provides new perspectives on understanding how dogs think and opens up new avenues for further research into canine cognition.