Study Finds Anxious Dogs And Anxious Humans Have Similar Brain Activity

We often talk about how dogs and humans take on the same personality as they live with each other. Some people even choose pet dogs according to their personality if they match well.

According to new research, there may be more truth in this than we thought possible. It can be seen in the way that both dogs and humans exhibit certain abnormalities in their brain patterns when they have mental health issues.

Photo: Pexels/Dominika Roseclay

After learning this information, it can have benefits for both dogs and humans when they are dealing with emotional problems. It also helps to show how disorders associated with anxiety can affect both humans and canines.

38 pet dogs were used in the study. The humans in the study were asked to fill out a research questionnaire. Doing so will allow the researchers to examine how much stress the dog was experiencing. In addition, the dogs went through noninvasive functional magnetic resonance imaging.

13 of the dogs in the study were classified as being anxious. 25 were considered healthy. After getting the images of the dog’s brains at rest, they were able to tell the differences in brain activity between the two groups.

Photo: Pexels/Nandkumar Patel

Both groups were examined for neural connections but in anxious dogs, a strong connection was noted between various regions in the anxiety network of the brain and the amygdala.

The study authors noted that they’d detected this higher connectivity, which showed how those regional dysfunctions could lead to anxiety symptoms. Since the amygdala and hippocampus are both associated with excitement, fear, and memory, it was easy to see the connection.

In order to make it easier for most people to understand what they were saying, they put it in easy terms. They said: “there is better communication efficiency between these regions and the rest of the network when confronted with anxiety.” This led to noting that anxiety problems are associated with an overactive salience network.

Photo: Pexels/Steshka Willems

Some of the things they looked into with the brain activity included dogs that were fearful or aggressive. They also found some similarities between dogs that were nervous and humans that felt anxiety.

One example of this is attention seeking. This behavior is associated with the connections in the thalamus, which matches what happens in anxious people.

If dogs act aggressively toward or chase other dogs frequently, they may see differences in the frontal lobe. This is the part of the brain that is associated with depression and anxiety in humans. It looks like we are more closely related to our dogs than most people realize.

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