Dogs May Be Able To “See” With Their Noses, New Study Finds world news
Dogs could use their highly sensitive noses for both “seeing” and smelling, according to a new study.
A team of veterinarians, including Dr. Philippa Johnson, of Cornell University in New York, discovered that sight and smell are actually connected in the canine brain – something that has not yet been found in any other species.
The team performed MRI scans on a range of different dogs and successfully mapped the olfactory bulb (the part of the brain that deals with smells) to the occipital lobe (the visual processing area of the brain), shedding new light on how dogs experience and navigate the world.
It revealed an “extended pathway” that connects to the occipital lobe but also to the limbic system, which is the part of the brain involved in behavioral and emotional responses.
The results, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, suggest that smell and vision are therefore somewhat integrated in dogs – implying that they use smell to figure out where things are.
dr Johnson told Sky News that when people enter a room, they primarily use their sense of sight to determine who is there or how furniture is positioned. but dogs seem to incorporate smells into their interpretation and orientation of their environment.
She added: “One of the ophthalmologists at the hospital here said he regularly has owners bring their dogs in and when he tests their vision they are completely blind – but the owners literally won’t believe him.
“The guide dogs behave quite normally. They can play fetch, orientate themselves in their environment and don’t bump into each other.
“Knowing that there is an information superhighway between these two areas could be very reassuring for owners of dogs with terminal eye diseases.”
“We have never seen this connection between the nose and the occipital lobe, functionally the visual cortex, in dogs, in any species,” added Dr. Johnson, an assistant professor of clinical sciences at Cornell University and senior author of the report.
In the course of their study, the team also found connections where a dog’s brain processes memories and emotions similar to humans.