A unique connection in dogs’ brains

“Animals of Science” is like a collection of stories. Beautiful stories that tell the living in all its freshness. But also in all its complexity. A parenthesis to marvel at the treasures of the world. For this new episode, let’s once again go back to him who has become our best friend: the dog.

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When it sniffs for feces, it’s a little annoying. We must admit it. But when it sniffs substances, bombs, victims of disasters or even diseases, it is immediately much more interesting. And it has been known for a long time, the dog has one smell unique.

Looking closer, it’s not very surprising. That mucous membrane hiding in dog truffle has an area 50 times larger than that found in ours nose. It consists of 200 million. to 1 billion sensors smell. By comparison, ours, always by the nose, counts no more than 5 million!

Page brain, same conclusion. The dog’s olfactory bulb – understanding the region of the brain that processes messages sent by scent sensors – is up to 30 times larger than that of humans. With about 40 times more cells dedicated to odor analysis.

And all that is without mentioning the surprising body, which veterinarians cold vomeronasalt organ. It is placed in the upper palate of the dog. Connected to the nose with two small channels. Thanks to this, the dog can analyze smells with incredible finesse. Even when molecules fragrant is not legion.

Smell and sight connected to each other

The dog’s extraordinary power could already seem to have no more secrets for scientists. But that would be to forget their boundless curiosity. For after all, they remained amazed at a dog, ifsmell appears a million times more effective than ours. So they used an advanced neuroimaging technique to try to locate the paths that they white fabric in the dog’s brain. The white matter is what transports information between brain areas. Millions of cables surrounded by one fabric fat, the myelin.

Twenty dogs participated in the experiment. Dogs are all pretty good sniffers, let’s face it. And what the researchers have observed are first and foremost connections between the olfactory bulb – which is located behind eyes of the dog – and limbic system and the piriform lap. This is where the brain processes memory and emotions. Connections similar to those found at home. These same compounds that immerse us in our childhood with the simple scent of hot chocolate. No wonder, so far. But the researchers also discovered compounds they had not expected at all. Because such compounds have never been observed in any other animal species. Not even in humans. connections with spine and with the occipital lobe.

The occipital lobe is the area of ​​the brain that processes … visual information! Yes, you read that right. In dogs, smell and vision are connected by the brain. Some scientists assumed it. But this time it is proven. This also explains how dogs that have become blind manage to orient themselves so well in their environment. Much better than us. Good news for people who share life as a dog. And another sign that ours best friend is not so stupid!

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On the program for this issue: a dive into the heart of 4 scientific themes that will mark 2022, from Earth to the Moon:

  • What mysteries does the moon still hide from us?
  • Will we soon be able to heal everything thanks to genes?
  • How to feed the world without destroying it?
  • Can artificial intelligence become truly intelligent?

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