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Dog Intelligence Offers Clues to Dementia

Some dogs take a while before they learn new tricks. This is because canine intelligence is comparably similar in structure to humans, which can be gauged in the same way too.

As dogs experience dementia, a new research suggests that we can look into our furry, four-legged friends to get a better understanding as to the causes of this mental condition in humans. Dr. Rosalind Arden, of the London School of Economics and Political Science, and her colleagues published the study results in the journal Intelligence.

For this research, Dr. Arden and her team devised an IQ test, which they utilized to quantify the intelligence of 68 border collie dogs. The test was particularly centered on the canines’ navigational skills and the time it took them to retrieve hidden items. The dogs were also tested on their ability to distinguish various quantities and see if they can quickly follow on human hand gestures, pointing toward certain objects.

Each participating border collie took less than an hour to complete the test, which is comparably similar to the length of time it takes for an average human to finish an IQ exam.

Understanding the Intelligence Capacity and Health in Dogs

Dogs that perform well in one task in the IQ test do well in other tasks, the researchers found out. In addition, they discovered that those that finished the tests quickly performed more accurately.

Humans who tend to be more intelligent lead healthier, longer lives. For Dr. Arden, the dog IQ test results are a significant discovery since dog intelligence is comparably similar to that of humans.

“So if, as our research suggests, dog intelligence is structured similarly to ours, studying a species that doesn't smoke, drink, use recreational drugs and does not have large differences in education and income, may help us understand this link between intelligence and health better,” she stated.

Dr. Arden added that “understanding [dogs’] cognitive abilities could be valuable in helping us to understand the causes of [dementia] in humans and possibly test treatments for it.”

The researchers hope to devise more accurate IQ tests for dogs in the future.

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