Learning & Behavior

, Volume 46, Issue 4, pp 574–585 | Cite as

Orienting asymmetries and physiological reactivity in dogs’ response to human emotional faces

  • Marcello SiniscalchiEmail author
  • Serenella d’Ingeo
  • Angelo Quaranta


Recent scientific literature shows that emotional cues conveyed by human vocalizations and odours are processed in an asymmetrical way by the canine brain. In the present study, during feeding behaviour, dogs were suddenly presented with 2-D stimuli depicting human faces expressing the Ekman’s six basic emotion (e.g. anger, fear, happiness, sadness, surprise, disgust, and neutral), simultaneously into the left and right visual hemifields. A bias to turn the head towards the left (right hemisphere) rather than the right side was observed with human faces expressing anger, fear, and happiness emotions, but an opposite bias (left hemisphere) was observed with human faces expressing surprise. Furthermore, dogs displayed higher behavioural and cardiac activity to picture of human faces expressing clear arousal emotional state. Overall, results demonstrated that dogs are sensitive to emotional cues conveyed by human faces, supporting the existence of an asymmetrical emotional modulation of the canine brain to process basic human emotions.


Dog Lateralization Emotion Behaviour Vision Physiology 


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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Veterinary Medicine, Section of Behavioral Sciences and Animal BioethicsUniversity of Bari “Aldo Moro”ValenzanoItaly

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