What petting a dog can do for your brain
By Sandee LaMotte, CNN
On one side of the room sits the cutest life-size stuffed animal you’ve ever seen. On the other side rests a real dog — same size, shape and even the same name as the stuffed version.
You get to sit next to both of these fluffy friends and pet their fur. Guess which one will make your brain light up?
If you guessed the real dog, you’re right. Stuffed animals, as cute and cuddly as they may be, just don’t supercharge our frontal cortex, the part of the brain overseeing how we think and feel, according to a new study published Wednesday in the journal PLOS ONE.
“We chose to investigate the frontal cortex because this brain area is involved in several executive functions, such as attention, working memory, and problem-solving. But it is also involved in social and emotional processes,” said study lead author Rahel Marti, a doctoral student in the division of clinical psychology and animal-assisted interventions at the University of Basel in Switzerland, in an email.