Neuroscientist explores how dogs love us

“The heart of my interest is the dog-human relationship,” says Emory neuroeconomist Gregory Berns, director of the university's Center for Neuropolicy. His latest research involves training dogs to enter a functional magnetic resonance imaging scanner (fMRI) and hold perfectly still, so that he can scan their brain activity. Berns' research began with his own pet, Callie, adopted from an animal shelter, and has expanded to include a dozen “MRI-certified” canines. Only positive training methods are used on the dogs. They remain awake and unrestrained in the fMRI as they respond to stimuli like hand signals indicating food and smells of familiar humans. The results Berns has gathered so far are the subject of his new book, “How Dogs Love Us: A Neuroscientist and His Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain.” “The idea behind the book is essentially my deep-seated desire to know what my dogs are thinking, and whether they love us for something more than food,” Berns says. “I think the answer is definitely, yes. They love us for things far beyond food, basically the same things that humans love us for. Things like social comfort and social bonds.” Source: eScienceCommons

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