Los perros se contagian del bostezo humano

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Los perros pueden contagiarse del bostezo humano, lo cual sugiere que esos animales son capaces de hacer empatía con las personas, divulgó la publicación británica Biology Letters.

Los perros se contagian con bostezo humano
- glocalia.com 07/08/2008 -
Londres, 07/08/07- Los perros pueden contagiarse del bostezo humano, lo cual sugiere que esos animales son capaces de hacer empatía con las personas, divulgó la publicación británica Biology Letters.

Hasta ahora se creía que sólo el hombre y los primates no humanos podían contagiarse con el bostezo de sus congéneres, pero expertos del Birkbeck College de la Universidad de Londres, hallaron que los canes copian el gesto social de las personas.

Los investigadores basaron sus resultados en un experimento con 29 perros, para confirmar si las mascotas podían aprender a bostezar por imitación.

Frente a cada uno sentaron a una persona que bostezaba cuando los animales tenían contacto visual con ellos.

En un segundo experimento, los voluntarios sólo abrían y cerraban la boca sin emitir sonido alguno.

Como resultado, los investigadores comprobaron que 21 de los 29 canes bostezaron cuando las personas frente a ellos lo hacían, como promedio imitaron la acción 1,9 veces. Pero durante la segunda prueba, en la que los humanos solo abrieron y cerraron la boca, no repitieron el gesto.

Con respecto a los resultados del estudio, el investigador Atsushi Senju, dijo que "los perros tienen una capacidad especial para leer la comunicación humana. Ellos responden cuando les apuntamos y cuando les señalamos".  (PL)


Pet dogs can 'catch' human yawns

By Jennifer Carpenter
Science reporter, BBC News

Dogs 'catch' human yawns

Yawning is known to be contagious in humans but now scientists have shown that pet dogs can catch a yawn, too.

The copying activity suggests that canines are capable of empathising with people, say the researchers who recorded dogs' behaviour in lab tests.

Until now, only humans and their close primate relatives were thought to find yawning contagious.

The team - from Birkbeck College, University of London - reports its findings in Biology Letters.

Yawning, although sometimes a response to extreme stress, is more often a sign of tiredness; but the reason for why yawning is catching is not fully understood.

Human cues

There is evidence that autistic individuals are less inclined to yawn into response to another human yawning, suggesting that contagious yawning betrays an ability to empathise, explained Birbeck's Dr Atsushi Senju.

Dr Senju and his team wondered whether dogs - that are very skilled at reading human social cues - could read the human yawn signal, and set out to test the yawning capabilities of 29 canines.

The way we have selected dogs has emphasised certain traits

The team created two conditions, each five minutes long, in which a person - who was a stranger to the dog - was sat in front of the animal and asked to call its name. Under the first condition, the stranger yawned once the dogs had made eye contact with them.

"We gave dogs everything: visual and auditory stimulus to induce them to yawn," Dr Senju, told BBC News.

Under the second condition, the same procedure was followed, but this time the stranger opened and closed their mouth but did not yawn.

This was a precaution to ensure that dogs were not responding to an open mouth, explained Dr Senju.

Yawning yet?

The team found that 21 out of 29 dogs yawned when the stranger in front of them yawned - on average, dogs yawned 1.9 times. By contrast, no dogs yawned during the non-yawning condition.

The researchers believe that these results are the first evidence that dogs have the capacity to empathise with humans; although the team could not rule out stress-induced yawning - they hope to in future studies.

Dogs have lived cheek by jowl with humans for millennia

"Dogs have a very special capacity to read human communication. They respond when we point and when we signal," Dr Senju told BBC News.

The researchers explained that along with floppy ears and big soppy-eyes, humans have selected dogs to be obedient and docile. The results from this study suggest the capacity for empathy towards humans is another trait selected in dogs during domestication.

Dr Senju thinks that these traits would have been useful to humans when they began to live side-by-side with canines approximately 15,000 years ago.

Jounal Article

Dogs catch human yawns
Article CategoryAnimal behaviour
Article TypeResearch-Article
Online DateTuesday, August 05, 2008

Ramiro M. Joly-Mascheroni1, Atsushi Senju1, Alex J. Shepherd1
1 School of Psychology, Birkbeck, University of London, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HX, UK

This study is the first to demonstrate that human yawns are possibly contagious to domestic dogs (Canis familiaris). Twenty-nine dogs observed a human yawning or making control mouth movements. Twenty-one dogs yawned when they observed a human yawning, but control mouth movements did not elicit yawning from any of them. The presence of contagious yawning in dogs suggests that this phenomenon is not specific to primate species and may indicate that dogs possess the capacity for a rudimentary form of empathy. Since yawning is known to modulate the levels of arousal, yawn contagion may help coordinate dog–human interaction and communication. Understanding the mechanism as well as the function of contagious yawning between humans and dogs requires more detailed investigation.
yawning, contagious yawning, dog, empathy, social cognition


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