We use fMRIs for science and medical purposes to take images of our brains and understand brain activity. Until now, this has not been possible for dogs in a conscious state. In the past, we’ve had no idea what exactly dogs are thinking and though we can guess, we haven’t had brain scans to back it up. Well, Gregory Berns, the head researcher of the project at Emory University Center for Neuropolicy, was inspired by military dogs, who are trained to do a number of pretty incredible tasks including jumping out of planes. He thought that it must be possible to train a dog to enter a brain-scanning machine and stay very still while capturing images of her brain.
He and his team trained two (adorable) pups to do just this. Callie is a two-year-old feist and McKenzie is a three-year-old border collie and both have helped the team tremendously. They have been trained to react to different hand signals, one that means “treat” and the other that means “no treat.” The scientists had fascinating findings and saw that when the pups thought “treat,” the region of their brain that showed activity was the same region associated with reward in humans.
Berns hopes that more experiments like this will help us better understand the human-dog connection. It may lead to further information regarding how dogs process human language and our facial expressions.
Watch this video that delves into the project and see the enthusiastic and smart dogs in action:
Source: Main image and info via MSNBC Today Tech