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Functional cerebral asymmetry in dogs living under different environmental conditions

Salgirli Demirbas, Yasemin, Isparta, Sevim, Ozturk, Hakan, Safak, Etkin, Emre, Bahri, Piskin, İlksin, Kaya, Ufuk, Sagmanligil, Vedat, Akgul, Betul, Da Graça Pereira, Gonçalo
Behavioural processes 2019 v.165 pp. 4-8
asymmetry, dogs, environmental factors, veterinary medicine
Investigating the link between stress and functional cerebral asymmetry (FCA) has been a subject of interest in recent years. The demonstration of this link in the field of veterinary medicine is particularly important as measuring FCA has the potential to be an alternative and non-invasive behavioral method to assess stress in dogs. The present study aimed to investigate whether FCA is affected by different environmental conditions in dogs.The main aim of this study was to investigate the changes in FCA in dogs living under different conditions. To this aim, strength and direction of FCA in 40 urban free-ranging dogs were measured by a Kong test. Dogs were divided into four groups considering their environmental conditions: The dogs in Group 1 (n = 8) were rehabilitated urban free ranging dogs, which were kept in enriched shelter conditions. The dogs in Group 2 (n = 9) were adopted free ranging dogs, which lived in home environment for more than 1 year. The dogs in Group 3 (n = 11) were urban free ranging dogs, which stayed in individual cages in a dog shelter for more than 6 months. The dogs in Group 4 (n = 12) were adopted urban free ranging dogs, which stayed in a dog pension for more than 30 days. Considering the length of their stay in a kennel environment, quality of living condition and emotional states, the dogs in Group 3 and 4 were classified as chronically stressed dogs.Statistically significant differences existed between groups considering strength and direction of lateralization. Most of the dogs in Group 1 (87.5 %) and Group 2 (77.8 %) showed significant paw preferences, whereas most of the dogs in the Group 3 (72.7 %) and Group 4 (75 %) were categorized as ambilateral. Considering the individual level asymmetry in dogs and environmental conditions of dogs in Group 3 and 4, one may suggest that high ambilaterality levels is related with chronic stress. Thus, reduced FCA may not be the reason for stress sensibility, rather it can be an outcome of stressful situations. These results are the first to demonstrate the possible link between chronic stress and ambilaterality in dogs.