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Behav Processes. 2012 Oct;91(2):202-5. doi: 10.1016/j.beproc.2012.07.001. Epub 2012 Jul 11.

Hemispheric specialization in domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) for processing different types of acoustic stimuli.

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University of Warsaw, Faculty of Psychology, ul. Stawki 5/7, 00-183 Warszawa, Poland.


Lateralization is considered to be a fundamental feature of vertebrate brains. The aim of the present study was to examine the impact of functional cerebral asymmetry on processing of auditory stimuli in the domestic dog (Canis familiaris) during the orientation reaction. The experiment was conducted on 46 dogs (25 females and 21 males). Four types of auditory stimuli were used in the experiment (three meaningful stimuli: cat meowing, dog barking, the "sit" command ("siad" in Polish), and a neutral word ("wir", meaning "whirl" in Polish). It was predicted that the orientation reaction (turning the head towards the stimuli) would take place only in the case of meaningful sounds. It was also expected that dogs would show consistent lateralization. As predicted, all three meaningful stimuli elicited the orientation reaction. The response of the examined dogs to cat meowing showed significant lateralization with dominant leftwards movement, which hints towards activation of the right cerebral hemisphere and may be related to strong emotions evoked by this stimulus. Contrary to results of previous studies, dogs reacting to dog barking turned their heads leftwards more often, which suggests activation of the right cerebral hemisphere, probably related to the emotional meaning of the stimulus. The "sit" command consistently evoked the orientation reaction but there was no significant lateralization of this movement.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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