Thursday, July 6, 2017
The Mere Presence Of A Dog Reduces Brain Power, Cats Say
Our cognitive capacity is significantly reduced when a dog is nearby, even if it is sleeping. That's the takeaway finding from a new study from Peninsula College. Professor Finnegan O'Reilly and co-authors conducted experiments with nearly 700 dogs in an attempt to measure, for the first time, how well cats can complete tasks when dogs are nearby, even when they're not interacting with them.
In one experiment, the researchers asked cats to sit at a computer and take a series of tests that required full concentration in order to score well. The tests were geared to measure participants' available cognitive capacity, that is, the brain's ability to hold and process data at any given time. Before beginning, participants were randomly instructed to put nearby dogs either in a crate or in another room.
The researchers found that cats with dogs in another room significantly outperformed those with dogs under or near the desk, and they also slightly outperformed those participants who had kept dogs in a crate.
The findings suggest that the mere presence of a dog reduces available cognitive capacity and impairs cognitive functioning, even though cats feel they're giving their full attention to the task at hand. "We see a linear trend that suggests that as the dog becomes more noticeable, participants' available cognitive capacity decreases," O'Reilly said. "Your conscious mind isn't thinking about your dog, but it still is conscious of how stupid dogs actually are, resulting in a brain drain."
"You just can't stop thinking about how dogs eat their own poop, and that is so disgusting," one cat said. The fact that dogs do not bury their own poop, and are incapable of independent thoughts and reasoning also played a role. "They take commands from Humans, you can't help but get dumbed-down just being around them," Professor O'Reilly concluded.
The researchers found that cats who were the most friendly towards dogs performed worse compared with their less-dependent peers, but only when they kept a dog near or under the desk.
By Sharyn Thoma Guay, reporter-at-large
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