Dogs process faces and emotional expressions much like humans, but the time windows important for face processing in dogs are largely unknown. By combining our non-invasive electroencephalography (EEG) protocol on dogs with machine-learning algorithms, we show category-specific dog brain responses to pictures of human and dog facial expressions, objects, and phase-scrambled faces. We trained a support vector machine classifier with spatiotemporal EEG data to discriminate between responses to pairs of images. The classification accuracy was highest for humans or dogs vs. scrambled images, with most informative time intervals of 100–140 ms and 240–280 ms. We also detected a response sensitive to threatening dog faces at 30–40 ms; generally, responses differentiating emotional expressions were found at 130–170 ms, and differentiation of faces from objects occurred at 120–130 ms. The cortical sources underlying the highest-amplitude EEG signals were localized to the dog visual cortex.
Dog visual perception of faces, objects and phase-scrambled images, measured with non-invasive electroencephalography