Do dogs experience emotions in a way that resembles human feelings? For several years, scientist Gregory Berns has been analyzing canine brains, leading him to assert that “dogs are people, too.”
This neuroscientist from Emory University penned an essay in the New York Times detailing his research. His recent discoveries raise intriguing questions about emotional processing in dogs.
Berns and his research team have been conducting MRI brain scans on dogs for the past two years. To ensure successful scanning, the dogs needed to be trained to remain calm in the confined MRI machine while fully conscious and unconfined.
The researchers used positive reinforcement methods to teach the dogs how to stay still in the MRI machine. This enabled them to capture active images of the functioning canine brain. The first trained dog was Berns’ own rescued pet, Callie.
After examining a dozen dogs, Berns discovered a noteworthy similarity between the canine and human brain in an area known as the caudate nucleus. This region of the brain plays a significant role in anticipating positive experiences, such as those derived from food, love, and money in humans.