Browsing by Subject "CANIS-FAMILIARIS"

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  • Somppi, Sanni; Törnqvist, Heini; Kujala, Miiamaaria V.; Hänninen, Laura; Krause, Christina M.; Vainio, Outi (2016)
    Appropriate response to companions' emotional signals is important for all social creatures. The emotional expressions of humans and non-human animals have analogies in their form and function, suggesting shared evolutionary roots, but very little is known about how animals other than primates view and process facial expressions. In primates, threat-related facial expressions evoke exceptional viewing patterns compared with neutral or positive stimuli. Here, we explore if domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) have such an attentional bias toward threatening social stimuli and whether observed emotional expressions affect dogs' gaze fixation distribution among the facial features (eyes, midface and mouth). We recorded the voluntary eye gaze of 31 domestic dogs during viewing of facial photographs of humans and dogs with three emotional expressions (threatening, pleasant and neutral). We found that dogs' gaze fixations spread systematically among facial features. The distribution of fixations was altered by the seen expression, but eyes were the most probable targets of the first fixations and gathered longer looking durations than mouth regardless of the viewed expression. The examination of the inner facial features as a whole revealed more pronounced scanning differences among expressions. This suggests that dogs do not base their perception of facial expressions on the viewing of single structures, but the interpretation of the composition formed by eyes, midface and mouth. Dogs evaluated social threat rapidly and this evaluation led to attentional bias, which was dependent on the depicted species: threatening conspecifics' faces evoked heightened attention but threatening human faces instead an avoidance response. We propose that threatening signals carrying differential biological validity are processed via distinctive neurocognitive pathways. Both of these mechanisms may have an adaptive significance for domestic dogs. The findings provide a novel perspective on understanding the processing of emotional expressions and sensitivity to social threat in non-primates.
  • Vaysse, Amaury; Ratnakumar, Abhirami; Derrien, Thomas; Axelsson, Erik; Pielberg, Gerli Rosengren; Sigurdsson, Snaevar; Fall, Tove; Seppala, Eija H.; Hansen, Mark S. T.; Lawley, Cindy T.; Karlsson, Elinor K.; Bannasch, Danika; Vila, Carles; Lohi, Hannes; Galibert, Francis; Fredholm, Merete; Haggstrom, Jens; Hedhammar, Ake; Andre, Catherine; Lindblad-Toh, Kerstin; Hitte, Christophe; Webster, Matthew T.; LUPA Consortium (2011)
  • Somppi, Sanni; Törnqvist, Heini; Topal, Jozsef; Koskela, Aija; Hänninen, Laura; Krause, Christina M.; Vainio, Outi (2017)
    The neuropeptide oxytocin plays a critical role in social behavior and emotion regulation in mammals. The aim of this study was to explore how nasal oxytocin administration affects gazing behavior during emotional perception in domestic dogs. Looking patterns of dogs, as a measure of voluntary attention, were recorded during the viewing of human facial expression photographs. The pupil diameters of dogs were also measured as a physiological index of emotional arousal. In a placebo-controlled within-subjects experimental design, 43 dogs, after having received either oxytocin or placebo (saline) nasal spray treatment, were presented with pictures of unfamiliar male human faces displaying either a happy or an angry expression. We found that, depending on the facial expression, the dogs' gaze patterns were affected selectively by oxytocin treatment. After receiving oxytocin, dogs fixated less often on the eye regions of angry faces and revisited (glanced back at) more often the eye regions of smiling (happy) faces than after the placebo treatment. Furthermore, following the oxytocin treatment dogs fixated and revisited the eyes of happy faces significantly more often than the eyes of angry faces. The analysis of dogs' pupil diameters during viewing of human facial expressions indicated that oxytocin may also have a modulatory effect on dogs' emotional arousal. While subjects' pupil sizes were significantly larger when viewing angry faces than happy faces in the control (placebo treatment) condition, oxytocin treatment not only eliminated this effect but caused an opposite pupil response. Overall, these findings suggest that nasal oxytocin administration selectively changes the allocation of attention and emotional arousal in domestic dogs. Oxytocin has the potential to decrease vigilance toward threatening social stimuli and increase the salience of positive social stimuli thus making eye gaze of friendly human faces more salient for dogs. Our study provides further support for the role of the oxytocinergic system in the social perception abilities of domestic dogs. We propose that oxytocin modulates fundamental emotional processing in dogs through a mechanism that may facilitate communication between humans and dogs.