On one side of the room sits the cutest life-size stuffed animal I’ve ever seen. On the other side is a real dog – same size, shape, and even the same name as the stuffed version.
You can sit next to each of these fluffy friends and pet their fur. Guess which one will make your mind light up?
If you guessed the real dog, you’re right. Stuffed animals, while cute and cuddly, don’t charge our frontal cortex, the part of the brain that oversees how we think and feel, according to a new study. Published Wednesday in PLOS ONE مجلة.
“We chose to examine the frontal cortex because this brain region is involved in many executive functions, such as attention, working memory, and problem solving. But it is also involved in social and emotional processes,” said senior study author Rachel Marti. PhD student in the Department of Clinical Psychology and Animal-assisted Interventions at the University of Basel in Switzerland, via email.
Why is this discovery important? It provides further evidence that human-animal treatment interactions may enhance cognitive and emotional activity in the brain, Marty said.
“If patients who are deficient in motivation, attention, and social and emotional functioning show higher emotional engagement in dog-related activities, such activities can increase the opportunity for learning and the achievement of treatment goals,” she said.
This latest study adds to current search On the benefits of animal-assisted therapy in medically supervised neurological rehabilitation for diseases of the nervous system, such as strokes, seizure disorders, brain trauma and infections.
“This is an interesting rigorously conducted study that provides new insight into the associations between human-animal interaction and regional prefrontal brain activity in healthy adults,” said Dr. who posted a search for The relationship between pet ownership and cognitive health.
“Although more work is needed in larger samples of people with certain neurological conditions, the current study could inform future research of animal-assisted interventions for neurorehabilitation by providing new data regarding the type, severity, and frequency of animal interactions needed to achieve the desired physiological. or clinical benefits,” said Braley, who was not involved in the new research.
The closer the better
In the study, the researchers used near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), a brain scanner that offers flexibility because it operates under natural conditions and is not confined to a closed room in a laboratory. This technique measures brain activity by saturating the blood with oxygen in the brain.
The study team equipped each of 19 participants with a scanner and asked them to observe and interact with one of three live dogs: a Jack Russell terrier, a golden retriever and a golden retriever. First, study participants watched the dog from across the room. Then the dog sat next to them. Finally, each person was allowed to pet the dog. This operation occurred two more times at later dates.
In other sessions, each person repeated the same sequence with a plush stuffed lion holding a hot water bottle to simulate the body temperature of a live dog. In both scenarios, brain stimulation increased as the dog or stuffed animal approached.
“We found that brain activity increased when contact with the dog or plush animal became closer. This confirms previous studies linking close contact with animals or controlling stimuli with increased brain activity,” Marty said.
However, the study found a stronger increase in brain activity when a person petted a real dog’s fur versus a stuffed animal.
“We believe that emotional engagement may be a key underlying mechanism of brain activation in human-animal interactions,” Marty said, adding that stuffed animals are likely to cause less affection.
She said the findings mirror findings from other researchers, who found more brain activity when participants interacted with live rabbits, guinea pigs, cats, dogs and horses.
“Positive nonverbal cues and cross-reactions provided by a live animal could partly explain this difference,” Braley said.
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