Researchers have found yet another way that humans and dogs are of one mind. This time, the subject of the similarity is how they process concepts of quantity—an important ability for many animals. Knowing roughly how many predators are approaching or how many food items are available for foraging has survival advantages. So, it is little wonder many animals have a basic sensitivity to quantity, and there is a term for it—numerosity.
To address canine numerosity, Lauren Aulet, a graduate student at Emory University working with Gregory Berns, used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study dogs’ brains while they viewed various quantities of dots. The area of the dot array was always the same, but the number of dots within it varied. The dogs in the study have been trained to sit still during the fMRI. They passively watched various groups of dots as they were flashed on a screen.