April 2023: Miiamaaria Kujala

“Researcher of the month” introduces the people of Jyväskylä Brain and Mind and their current research news.

Miiamaaria Kujala, Associate Professor

Hi Miiamaaria! Who are you and what do you do at JYU?

I’m Miiamaaria Kujala, Academy Researcher and a docent of Comparative cognitive neuroscience. I am currently leading a project “Human’s best friend - The emotional synchrony of human-dog social interaction” at the Department of Psychology, JYU.

What is your current research interest?

I am conducting studies on human-dog interaction: we examine how humans understand dog communication, how dogs understand humans, what are the factors affecting the interaction between the two species, and how do we form functional dyads of humans and dogs.

What do you think would be interesting to research in the future?

I think the future sees the expansion of our knowledge related to the cognition of non-human species, and I expect the knowledge we build today will be better disseminated for non-scientific audiences. I would personally like to learn more about the human prerequisites needed for directing our social cognition for understanding non-human minds, and how can we train people in this.

Some of Miiamaaria's recent published studies:

  1. Here, we measured the heart rates of dogs in different emotional situations and collected the interpretations of owners:
    Somppi S, Valldeoriola A, Törnqvist H, Koskela A, Vehkaoja A, Väätäjä H, Surakka V, Vainio O, Kujala MV (2022). Dog–Owner relationship, owner interpretations and dog personality are connected with the emotional reactivity of dogs. Animals 12: 1338. DOI: 10.3390/ani12111338
  2. Here, we predicted non-invasively dog brain responses to visual images at the level of a single response:
    Kujala MV, Kauppi J-P, Törnqvist H, Helle L, Vainio O, Kujala J, Parkkonen L (2020). Time-resolved classification of dog brain signals reveals early processing of faces, species and emotion. Scientific Reports 10: 19846. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-76806-8
  3. Here are my thoughts and a review of how humans think about dogs, and what does the science say:
    Kujala MV (2017). Canine emotions as seen through human social cognition. Animal Sentience 14: 1. URL: https://www.wellbeingintlstudiesrepository.org/animsent/vol2/iss14/1/