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Selective breeding has shaped dogs’ brains - study
Humans have been breeding dogs for centuries to carry out different tasks.
Researchers examine human impact on a dog’s cognitive ability

Breeding dogs for specific behavioural traits, such as hunting or companionship, has significantly altered the structure of their brains, according to new research.

Humans have been breeding dogs for centuries to carry out different tasks. Scientists believe these behavioural differences must be due to underlying neural differences, but until now the subject has gone largely unexplored.

The study led by Dr Erin Hecht of Harvard University examined whether and how selective breeding has altered the overall organisation of the dogs’ brain. Researchers examined regional volumetric variation in MRI scans of 62 male and female dogs of 33 different breeds.

They found that neuroanatomical variation is not simply driven by body size, brain size or skull shape, and is focused on specific networks of regions of the dogs’ brain.

Furthermore, a phylogenetic analysis (the means of estimating evolutionary relationships) revealed that most change has occurred in the terminal branches of the dog phylogenetic tree, suggesting strong, recent selection in individual breeds.

"These results indicate that through selective breeding, humans have significantly altered the brains of different lineages of domestic dogs in different ways,” the authors write.

"Finally, on a philosophical level, these results tell us something fundamental about our own place in the larger animal kingdom - we have been systematically shaping the brains of another species."

The study, Significant neuroanatomical variation among domestic dog breeds, is published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

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Celebrity chefs urge public to get baking to support Cats Protection fundraiser

News Story 1
 In support of Cats Protection's Pawsome Afternoon Tea fundraiser, Masterchef winner Tim Anderson and Great British Bake Off star Kim-Joy have shared biscuit recipes to help keen bakers raise money for needy cats across April.

The celebrity chefs are both cat owners and have said that they hope this fundraiser will help to raise awareness of cats in need and the importance of adopting a cat, rather than buying one.

This is the fourth year Cats Protection has run its Pawsome Afternoon Tea campaign, which encourages people to hold tea parties, bake sales and fundraising events to help raise money for the charity.

To view the recipes and other fundraising resources please visit the Cats Protection website. 

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BEVA offering free membership to vet students

The British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) is offering free membership to veterinary students. As part of a new initiative with the aim of encouraging more veterinary professionals into equine practice.

According to BEVA, less than one in ten veterinary students choose to work in equine practice. The association hopes that this initiative will provide insight into the field and the benefits of a career in equine medicine.

Benefits of membership include:
▪ access to a network of nearly 3,000 members
▪ special student rates to attend BEVA Congress
▪ online access to BEVA's Equine Veterinary Education (EVE) journal
▪ free access to the association's online learning platform
▪ free access to BEVA's practical veterinary apps
▪ exclusive discounts on a range of things from cinema tickets to grocery shopping.

BEVA will be releasing a series of short videos over the next few months from BEVA Council members, explaining what inspired them to work in equine practice.

Image (c) BEVA.