In a fascinating study from the University of Eotvos Lorànd, researchers from the Department of Ethology explored 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.
This 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 has now been explored in depth by this specific study.
The researchers tested 82 dogs in behavioral tasks evaluating their ability to learn the location of a reward relative to the characteristics of an object. The results showed that “smarter” dogs learned 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, the researchers measured the dogs’ head length, which correlates with visual acuity and subjected them to cognitive tests.
The results revealed that Dogs with better visual and cognitive abilities showed a reduced “spatial bias.” In conclusion, this study sheds light on the minds of our furry companions, suggesting that their ability to interpret information goes beyond simple vision, leading to new perspectives on understanding how dogs think.