Tell us something we don’t know! It’s taken a professor of neuroeconomics at a university in Georgia to discover that dogs emotions are similar to those of a human!
For the past two years, Professor Gregory Burns and his colleagues trained dogs to go into an M.R.I. scanner — completely awake and unrestrained (I know, scary right!?). Their goal, to determine how dogs’ brains work and what they think of humans.
With the use of positive training, Prof Burns taught his own dog Callie, a black terrier mix, to enter the scanner, where he measured Callie’s brain response to two hand signals in the scanner. In later experiments, not yet published, the Professor and his team determined which parts of Callie’s brain distinguished the scents of familiar and unfamiliar dogs and humans.
Once the local dog community learned of his teams quest to determine what dogs are thinking, within a year, they had assembled a team of a dozen dogs who were all “M.R.I.-certified.” If Callie and her canine chums didn’t want to be in the M.R.I. scanner, they could leave…. just like any human volunteer.
The teams research found there was a striking similarity between dogs and humans in both the structure and function of a key brain region: the caudate nucleus. According to the Professor, in humans, the caudate plays a key role in the anticipation of things they enjoy, such as food, love and money.
The full article makes for a really interesting read, as the Professor goes on to discuss the treatment of canines in the future. In the US, the Animal Welfare Act of 1966 takes the view that animals are things, more so, property. Could the Professors research lead to the transition from ‘property’ to ‘personhood’? If so, this may eventually lead to ‘rights’ for us canines. Imagine that, if us hounds had rights similar to those of humans, we would be able to bring an end to the abhorrent use of puppy mills!
You can read the full article here.
Gregory Berns is a professor of neuroeconomics at Emory University and the author of “How Dogs Love Us: A Neuroscientist and His Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain.”