Study reveals new links between smell and vision in dogs

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Cornell University researchers have provided the first documentation that dogs’ sense of smell is integrated with their vision and other unique parts of the brain, shedding new light on how dogs live and navigate the world .

“We’ve never seen this connection between the nose and the occipital lobe, functionally the visual cortex in dogs of any species,” said Pip Johnson, assistant professor of clinical sciences and lead author of “Extensive Connections of the Canine Olfactory Pathway Revealed”. by tractography and dissection”, published in The Journal of Neuroscience.

“When we walk into a room, we mainly use our vision to figure out where the door is, who’s in the room, where the table is,” she said. “Whereas in dogs, this study shows that olfaction is really integrated with vision in terms of how they learn about and orient themselves in their environment.”

Johnson and his team found connections where the brain processes memory and emotions that are similar to those in humans, as well as never-before-documented connections with the spinal cord and occipital lobe that aren’t found in humans.

Research supports his clinical experiences with blind dogs, which work remarkably well. “They can still play fetch and navigate their environment much better than humans in the same condition,” Johnson said. “Knowing that there is an information highway between these two areas could be extremely comforting to owners of dogs with incurable eye diseases.”

The identification of new connections in the brain also opens up new lines of questioning. “Seeing this variation in the brain allows us to see what is possible in the mammalian brain and to wonder – perhaps we have a residual connection between these two areas from when we were more ape-oriented and scents, or maybe other species have significant variations that we haven’t explored,” Johnson said.


Connectivity of unique language areas in the human brain


More information:
Erica F. Andrews et al, Extensive canine olfactory pathway connections revealed by tractography and dissection, The Journal of Neuroscience (2022). DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2355-21.2022

Provided by Cornell University

Quote: Study reveals new links between smell and vision in dogs (July 18, 2022) Retrieved July 18, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-07-links-dogs-vision.html

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