A recent study from the University of Eotvos Lorànd shed new light on how dogs interpret human gestures, with researchers from the Department of Ethology comparing their abilities with those of children. The results showed that the “smartest” dogs appear to pay attention not only to the location of an object but also to its appearance, suggesting a similarity in information processing to humans.
This 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. This difference has now been explored in depth by this specific study.
Researchers tested 82 dogs in behavioral tasks evaluating their ability to learn the location of a reward relative to the characteristics of an object. The findings revealed 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 a sensory or cognitive issue, 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 had a reduced spatial bias. In conclusion, this study provides insight into how our furry friends process information and suggests that their ability goes beyond simple vision, leading to new perspectives on understanding how dogs think.