Scientists discover dogs learn while they sleep

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Do you ever wonder what goes on when "man's best friend" is sleeping? It turns out, dogs are actually learning when they are asleep, according to a new study.

Scientists in Hungary hooked electrodes up to 15 dogs and tested them to see if they can learn and retain commands while they sleep.

The dogs' brain waves were monitored for three hours during the testing. Scientists focused on bursts of brain activity known as "sleep spindles," which are known to support memory, learning, and intelligence in people.

"This is the first time we were able to show that sleep spindles predict learning in the dog," says Neuroscience Researcher Ivaylo Iotchev.

Female dogs displayed more brain activity per minute than male dogs, and are better learners and memorize tasks more efficiently.

During the testing, scientists also looked at how a dog's memory changes with age. The team says up to two-thirds of canines, aged 15- to 16-year-old, show signs of dementia.

"This dementia is really very similar, in a lot of aspects, to that of humans. So, we could use dogs as a natural model of human aging," said Eniko Kubinyi, a researcher involved with the testing.

The study could help researchers understand how dogs thing, behave, and age.

Click here to find out more about the research.

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