In a recent study from the University of Eotvos Lorànd, researchers from the Department of Ethology examined how dogs interpret human gestures, comparing them with children. The findings suggest that dogs process information in a similar way to humans, indicating that their cognitive abilities are more advanced than previously thought.
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. However, this difference is not just due to vision, but reflects how dogs think.
To test this theory, researchers conducted behavioral tasks on 82 dogs, 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 spatial bias is related to sensory or cognitive issues, researchers measured the dogs’ head length (which correlates with visual acuity) and subjected them to cognitive tests.
The results showed that dogs with better visual and cognitive abilities showed reduced spatial bias. This suggests that spatial bias is related to cognitive abilities rather than sensory limitations. In conclusion, this study provides new insights into how dogs think and process information, challenging previous assumptions about their cognitive abilities and opening up new avenues for research into animal cognition.