Functional MRI (fMRI) of fully awake and unrestrained dog ’volunteers' has been proven an effective tool to understand the neural circuitry and functioning of the canine brain. Although every dog owner would vouch that dogs are perceptive, cognitive, intuitive and capable of positive emotions/empathy, as indeed substantiated by ethological studies for some time, neurological investigations now corroborate this. These studies show that there exists a striking similarity between dogs and humans in the functioning of the caudate nucleus (associated with pleasure and emotion), and dogs experience positive emotions, empathic-like responses and demonstrate human bonding which, some scientists claim, may be at least comparable with human children. There exists an area analogous to the ’voice area' in the canine brain, enabling dogs to comprehend and respond to emotional cues/valence in human voices, and evidence of a region in the temporal cortex of dogs involved in the processing of faces, as also observed in humans and monkeys. We therefore contend that using dogs in invasive and/or harmful research, and toxicity testing, cannot be ethically justifiable.
- animal experimentation
- research ethics
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Contributors Both authors contributed significantly to the concept, research, writing and editing of this manuscript.
Funding Cruelty Free International Trust.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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