Animals in the News

By Rebecca MorelleScience reporter, BBC World Service

Dogs in scanner

Pet dogs took part in the MRI scanning study

Devoted dog owners often claim that their pets understand them. A new study suggests they could be right.

By placing dogs in an MRI scanner, researchers from Hungary found that the canine brain reacts to voices in the same way that the human brain does.

Emotionally charged sounds, such as crying or laughter, also prompted similar responses, perhaps explaining why dogs are attuned to human emotions.

The work is published in the journal Current Biology.

Lead author Attila Andics, from the Comparative Ethology Research Group at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, said: “We think dogs and humans have a very similar mechanism to process emotional information.”

Eleven pet dogs took part in the study; training them took some time.

“We used positive reinforcement strategies – lots of praise,” said Dr Andics.

“There were 12 sessions of preparatory training, then seven sessions in the scanner room, then these dogs were able to lie motionless for as long as eight minutes. Once they were trained, they were so happy, I wouldn’t have believed it if I didn’t see it.”

Dogs on scanner

For comparison, the team looked at the brains of 22 human volunteers in the same MRI scanners.

The scientists played the people and pooches 200 different sounds, ranging from environmental noises, such as car sounds and whistles, to human sounds (but not words) and dog vocalisations.

The researchers found that a similar region – the temporal pole, which is the most anterior part of the temporal lobe – was activated when both the animals and people heard human voices.

“We do know there are voice areas in humans, areas that respond more strongly to human sounds that any other types of sounds,” Dr Andics explained.

“The location (of the activity) in the dog brain is very similar to where we found it in the human brain. The fact that we found these areas exist at all in the dog brain at all is a surprise – it is the first time we have seen this in a non-primate.”

Read more at: BBC News

 

Beware of a Cat’s Bite

By NICHOLAS BAKALAR
 
Cat bites pose special infection risks.
Mitsuaki Iwago/Getty Images                                                      Cat bites pose special infection risks.
 
Although cat bites account for only 10 to 15 percent of animal bites treated in emergency rooms, they pose special infection risks.

Dog bites, the most common bites treated, can tear flesh and break bones, but they create open wounds that are easy to clean and less likely to become infected than the puncture wounds created by cats, which usually affect the hand and can inject bacteria into tendons and bones.

In a three-year retrospective study published in the February issue of The Journal of Hand Surgery, researchers reviewed records of 193 people who came to Mayo Clinic Hospital with cat bites to the hand.

Thirty-six victims were immediately admitted to the hospital, where they stayed an average of three days. Another 154 were treated with oral antibiotics as outpatients, although 21 of them eventually had to be hospitalized. Complications included nerve involvement, abscesses and loss of joint mobility.

The most common cause of infection was Pasteurella multocida, an aggressive bacterium found in the mouths of many animals and up to 90 percent of healthy cats. Amoxicillin is commonly used to treat it.

“Redness, swelling, increasing pain, difficulty in moving the hand and drainage from the wound are all signs that there may be an infection and that treatment should be sought,” said the senior author of the study, Dr. Brian T. Carlsen, a hand surgeon at the Mayo Clinic.

“The tendon sheaths and joints are superficial in the hand, and cat bites penetrate easily, seeding those spaces with the germ, ” he added. “Once it’s in there, it can grow quite rapidly in fluid-filled spaces that don’t have blood circulation, and surgery is often required. That’s an important message: don’t ignore a cat bite.”

From:NYTimes.com

 


Page 20 of 176««...10...192021...304050...»»