Ask Ms. Scientist: crunchy food and dogs

Why do we crave crunchy foods?

Bonnie P.

When I sit down with a big bowl of crunchy potato chips, there is a one hundred percent chance they’ll be gone by the time I get up. Crispy, crunchy and fried foods are delicious, and most people, including me, crave them. Crispy is a lot better than soggy or mushy. Why does our brain crave something that isn’t really good for us? The answer to this lies in our senses. We eat constantly. As a result, habituation causes our brains to lose appreciation for the taste and smell of many foods (this is why you get sick of eating the same food over and over again). However, crunchy foods are noisy and activate our sense of hearing. This means our senses of hearing, taste and smell are engaged. When crunchy foods activate these three different senses, this deviates from our usual habituation and thus is pleasurable for our brain. So remember, next time you’re enjoying some crunchy fried chicken, it’s appealing not only to your sense of smell and taste, but also to your sense of hearing.

Is my dog really color blind?

Clyde P.

No, they actually aren’t! Dogs can absolutely see color, but they see a more limited color range than we do. While we can see the colors of a rainbow, a dog would most likely see various shades of gray, blue and yellow. The reason for this difference between man and his best friend lies in the cone cells that exist in our eyes. Cone cells are the color receptors in our eyes that are responsible for our color vision. There are typically three different types of cones in mammalian eyes, all of which detect different wavelengths of light. When these three types of cones are combined together, they are able to sense a full color spectrum. As humans, we have all three cone types, but dogs only have two types of cones. Because they have some cones, dogs can still see some colors, but without all three, they see fewer colors than we do. So maybe next time when you’re thinking of buying a new dog toy for your dog at home, think about buying a yellow toy instead of a red one!

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