People love their pets. Coming home to the waiting cat or dog can be the highlight of the day, and many experience separation anxiety if they have to leave their pet for an extended period of time. A new study shows there is a biological explanation to our connection to pets.
The study compared MRI scans of brains of mothers looking at images of their dogs and images of their own children. Both types of images activate the same areas of the brain – with two differences: the photo of the child activated a region associated with forming bonds while the photo of the dog activated an area associated with facial recognition.
The next step will be to replicate the experience with men and women without children.
It is too early to conclude exactly what this means, but we already know pets are good for physical, emotional, and psychological well being. Many studies show pet owners live longer, have lower blood pressure, and get other physical advantages to non pet owners.