Monday, January 6, 2014

Peering into the minds of dogs

Could it be anything else? The beautiful Sofi and her look of love.
What are dogs really feeling, or thinking, when they look at us with what we perceive is the look of love? Is it really reciprocal, or are they just reinforcing our feeding behaviour? Are we just recklessly anthropomorphising when we suggest that the bond between humans and dogs is two-way?

Neuroscientist Professor Gregory Berns used fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) to image the brains of dogs. The challenge is that to undergo an fMRI you need to be stock still. To perform an MRI in a dog, the animal is normally anaesthetised, but he managed to train some dogs to lie still enough to perform the test - a remarkable feat in itself.

His aim is to try to create a brain map and to compare human and dog perception to try to get a sense of our similar our thinking is.

Of course seeing bits of brain light up doesn’t mean we can read dog’s minds. But you can read more in his book How Dogs Love Us.

Or you can listen to a fantastic interview with the brilliant Natasha Mitchell on ABC here.

In other news, if I win lotto I am getting this chandelier installed.