Peeking inside dogs brains and finding love


Dr. Gregory Berns, a professor of neuroeconomics at Emory University, uses MRI scans to learn how the dogs mind works.

Dr. Gregory Berns and his colleagues have trained dogs to go into an MRI scanner, completely awake and without any restraint, so they can learn what dogs think by literally watching it happen. In one study, the

scientists found that the dog owners' aromas sparked activation in the reward center of the brain, called the caudate nucleus. And of all the wafting smells to take in, dogs prioritized the hint of humans over anything or anyone else. Now that's love.

Dr. Berns says 27 pet dogs in Atlanta and 38 dogs training to be service dogs with Canine Companions for Independence (CCI) in Santa Rosa, Calif., have completed the training. “We have a rigorous try-out process where we look for basic obedience, ability to maintain a down-stay amidst distractions, and lack of noise-sensitivity. With proper selection, we successfully trained about 80 percent of the pet dogs.”

Dr. Berns says the veterans of the project (both dogs and humans) have become friends and colleagues. “It's amazing just how different all the dogs are, and we can see these differences in their brains now,” he says.

Intrigued? You may like Dr. Berns book How Dogs Love Us: A Neuroscientist and His Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain.

Related Videos
© 2023 MJH Life Sciences

All rights reserved.