It has been suggested that dogs' ability to com-prehend human pointing gestures evolved as a by-pr oductof the soci o-emotional changes associated with domesti-cation. Given the large role played by the oxytocin systemin socio-emotional processes, it is possible to hypothesize arole for oxytocin in modulating dogs' socio-communica-tive skills. Indeed, it has been shown that intranasal oxy-tocin enhances dogs' ability to use human pointing cues inan object choice task, a classic paradigm used to assess theability to follow a pointing gesture. We further tested thishypothesis in another sample of dogs and replicated theabove findings. We also provided a novel explanation tothe above findings, suggesting that oxytocin released dur-ing human-dog interactions increases the positive expec-tations about human behaviour via emotion and rewardprocesses and thus facilitates the interpretation of pointingas leading to positive events. Given the large and deephomology across mammals in the neural mechanismsinvolved in emotions, oxytocin could be involved in theacquisition of socio-communicative skills during h umantypical as well as pathological development.
Oxytocin improves the ability of dogs to follow informative pointing: a neuroemotional hypothesis
Springer Verlag Italia, Milano , Italia
Rendiconti lincei. Scienze fisiche e naturali 28 (2017): 105–115. doi:10.1007/s12210-016-0579-6
info:cnr-pdr/source/autori:Macchitella, L., Stegagno, T., Giaconella, R., Polizzi di Sorrentino, E., Schino G., Addessi, E./titolo:Oxytocin improves the ability of dogs to follow informative pointing: a neuroemotional hypothesis/doi:10.1007/s12210-016-057