Have you ever wondered why you are so drawn to animals? Why seeing puppy or a kitten or even a snake makes us sit up and take notice. 

Well the answer literally lies in our heads. Specifically our brains as researchers at Cal Tech recently found out. It seems that we have individual cells that “fire” specifically when we see an animal — but not a person, place or object. And the reason why seems to lie in our past.

Researcher Christof Koch and others discovered these specific cells while studying the brains of neurosurgical patients who were about to have surgery for severe epilepsy. Electrodes had been placed deep in the patients’ brains to find the source of their seizures. They noted when certain parts of the brain responded to seeing specific images. The amygdala which is an almond-shaped region of the brain associated with emotions including fear was the only area of the brain that had cells that responded when seeing images of animals.

It seems that the amygdala is specialized in alerting us to things that are emotionally important to us. This can be either positive or frightening things. Researcher Koch speculates that this particular neural response to seeing animals probably has it's roots in our evolutionary past due to the importance that animals held in our lives.

This is mostly likely because animals meant so many different things to us. For example some were hostile to us, while others were friendly and cuddly and others were simply what we saw as our dinner. Those that were hostile to us required that we have a quick response so the specialized cells most likely developed so that we could respond urgently to the danger present.

Even behavioral studies have been found to show that people respond with much more attention when seeing an animal or person than a stationary object. So the reason why we tend to feel so drawn to animals is that our brains have just evolved over time to take notice of animals first. Of course for many of us called "animal lovers" this portion of our brain seems to be much more developed than in other humans.

Responses to "Love of animals is rooted in our brains"

  1. Anonymous says:

    self recognition of our own animal nature, is a permanent phenomenon in the human species, as it is only via recognition of the animal characteristics in ourselves as people, that we know (by elimination), that what is not animal like, (or mineral or vegetable like), must be more pure in being human

  2. Anonymous says:

    Our love is not because of the size of an organ. Our physicality changes with our love...

  3. Anonymous says:

    It would be interesting to know then, if I would still love horses so much if I couldn't see them, because I also love their smell, feel and the sounds they make.

  4. Anonymous says:

    animal lovers are (us) usualy are not selfish people, we don't care much about i-phones, big cars or other (luxury) gadgets
    we don't live for ourselves but we "live to give" and "live to care"

    i think that's what makes the difference...

  5. Anonymous says:

    I sense that animals are much more deserving of our love than most people.

  6. jeannie says:

    Interesting and when you watch a video of a new born seeing an animal their faces light up but this also happens when they see other babies, like they can relate even at such a young age. I think part of it is that natural sense of innocence, that extra sense that we are born with and that sense that animals have to feel a good heart

  7. Anonymous says:

    Please consider this: Not much is expressed or documented about deeper connections of spirit... In my experience There is a spiritual unconscious, whih I have felt beyond the mental and emotional reasoning process. This chanel is in part IMO experienced by most life forms. Beyond thought there is compassion. Of course...we care we are spiritualy wired to be compassinate.

  8. In my humble opinion, our "spirit" is connected to all other spirits, including "animal spirits" & thus we feel drawn to them & secure & comfortable when we make contact to them.

  9. In my humble opinion, our "spirit" is connected to all other spirits, including "animal spirits" & thus we feel drawn to them & secure & comfortable when we make contact to them.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I have no answer only that it's in my soul. I can't be totally happy in this life due to the cruelty that animals endure, I think of it everyday of my life.

  11. Anonymous says:

    This is so TRUE...I'M EXACTLY Like that....

  12. Anonymous says:

    I feel spiritually connected to animals. I love to make a connection with them when I look in their eyes. They all have souls and intelligence. Humanity is just starting to find out but I have always known. A friend once said, "If people ever took the time to know a cow, they could never eat beef."


  13. lonna421 says:

    I don't know about cows per say, but I do know how I feel about wolves. With other forms of wildlife and even domesticated animals I don't feel as spiritually connected to them as I do with wolves. Reading this article makes me wonder about the" why do I feel so much more connected to dogs and wolves than any other animal?"

  14. Anonymous says:

    I find it interesting that our Creator made the animals and the stars and nature first and then made man - I believe He ingrained in all of us the love of nature and to care for the earth and all living creatures tho many have wandered from that path and try and say they don't like animals

  15. Anonymous says:

    I feel it is a giant part of my life...Animals are GOD!! they are here to watch and warn us of things to come...they have the 6th sence we don't posses...I live with my mother she has a little dog..I have always had animals in my life especially dogs...It's going on 2 yrs. this is the longest Iv'e lived without an animal in mylife... she won't allow me to have any animals I feel like I am dying inside..I have no worth, a big part of my life has always been shared with animals...seriously I feel more compassion for animals then people....:'(

  16. Anonymous says:

    Nice try, but seriously? Scientists try to explain everything, and I find this laughable. My love of animals is much more complex and intense than this article explains them to be. Maybe my amygdala responds when I see an animal, but it goes FAR deeper than that! Sheesh!

  17. God created animals prior to creating man,thus, His love and enjoyment of them has to be great. Man then was created to enjoy all of God's creation and have command of them. This signifies to me that love, friendship, care and joy of animals is ordained by God

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