Dogs and Kids: Only Slightly Different in your Brain

We bathe them, feed them, comfort, and cuddle them. We celebrate their birthdays, shower them with affection, and refer to them as our babies. And, occasionally, our kids will join in the fun. It may sound silly, but a recent study conducted by Massachusetts General Hospital found that the bond between humans and their dogs tug at the same heartstrings as the bond with their kids (meaning, similar areas of the brain were triggered.)

The study involved 14 women who had at least one child age 2-10; they were then showed a series of photographs: their kids, their dog(s), and those that were unfamiliar. Turns out, that many of the areas of the brain associated with emotion and reward processing were activated when they viewed their children and their dog, and nothing happened when showed the unfamiliar images. Of course, this isn’t to say mothers love their dog equally as much as their children. In fact, other, more specific parts of the brain were triggered when looking at their children versus their dog and vice versa, giving further insight into the human-animal bond. Read more about the study here.

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