Using MRI technology, scientists at
Emory University ( ) set out
to determine how dogs' brains work, and they discovered that dogs experience
emotions in a way comparable to humans. Atlanta,
For two years researcher Berns and his colleagues have trained dogs to enter an MRI scanner while awake and unrestrained. Typically, animals are anesthetized so they won't move during a scan, but you can't study brain functions like perception and emotion when an animal is asleep.
Another reason Berns chose not to anesthetize his canine participants is because he says wanted to treat the dogs like people.
All the dogs in the study have consent forms signed by their owners, and only positive training methods are used to prepare the animals for the MRI.
Berns' own dog, Callie, was the first dog to have her brain scanned. With the help of a dog trainer, Berns taught Callie to enter an MRI simulator.
Callie learned to enter the tube, place her head in a chin rest and sit still while wearing earmuffs to protect her ears from the machine's noise.
After a few months of training, Callie was ready for her first MRI, and Berns and his colleagues got their first maps of canine brain activity.
Other owners soon volunteered their dogs for research, and Berns has now scanned more than a dozen of their brains. The more data he gathers, the more he's convinced that dogs aren't that different from us.
The canine brain maps showed Berns that dogs use a region of the brain known as the caudate nucleus in a similar way to humans.
These findings don’t necessarily mean that our dogs love us, but because many of the same things activate both the human caudate and the dog caudate, neuroscientists say this could be an indication of canine emotions.