Neuroscientist reveals dogs have emotions just like humans
NewsMonday 07 October 2013
Gregory Berns who is a professor of neuroeconomics at Emory University in Atlanta says that dogs use the same area of the brain as humans do to feel and that they have emotions just like humans.
His initial goal was to determine how dog’s brains work and what they think of humans but after testing the results of MRI scans on his dog’s brain he discovered that they use the same part of the brain as humans to ‘feel’.
MRI scans can look directly at the brain and bypass the constraints of behaviourism. For an MRI scan to properly work you have to be perfectly still so to do this for a dog they are usually put under anaesthetic so they do not move during a scan. This however leads to a problem as it does not study brain functions or anything interesting like perception or emotion if the dog is asleep.
Mr Berns then set about training his own dog with the help of a professional dog trainer to place her head into a custom fitted chin rest and hold rock still for 30 seconds. After several months and trial and error results, they finally received the first maps of brain activity and managed to determine which parts of the brain distinguished the scents of familiar and unfamiliar dogs and humans.
He found there was a difference in the key brain region between humans and dogs, the caudate nucleus. For humans the caudate plays a key role in the things we enjoy like food, love and money. For dogs the research indicated that the activity in the caudate increased in response to hand signals and indicating food also it was activated when it smelt a familiar human.
Now questions could be raised about the treatment of animals. In some court cases in America the Supreme Court has already included neuroscientific findings in some cases to show whether the brain is in a mature or adolescence stage and one day we may see a similar case based for dogs rights on the same standards.
Source: Daily Mail