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Gregory Berns: Decoding the dog's mind with awake neuroimaging

canine behaviorneurosciencesbrain
9:00 AM, Tuesday 26 Jun 2018 (1 hour 30 minutes)


The domestic dog’s accessibility and social intelligence and their evolutionary history with humans have led to increasing interest in canine cognition. Despite a growing body of data on canine behavior and cognitive skills, relatively few advances have been made in understanding canine brain function. Practical and ethical concerns had limited the use of the invasive brain-imaging techniques typically used with primates and rodents . However, the demonstration that dogs can be trained to participate cooperatively in fMRI studies has opened up a wealth of new data about canine brain function. Many of these studies have investigated the dog’s preternatural social intelligence, focusing on neural pathways associated with different types of reward, including social reward, and face and language processing. These studies have implications for our understanding of canine brain function, and -- because of dogs’ close relations with humans -- may also help us understand human development and pathology.

Cook, Peter; Prichard, Ashley; Spivak, Mark; and Berns, Gregory S. (2018) Jealousy in dogs? Evidence from brain imagingAnimal Sentience 22(1)

Cook PF, Prichard A, Spivak M, Berns GS: Awake canine fMRI predicts dogs' preference for praise versus food. Soc Cog Affect Neurosci, 11:1853-1862, 2016. 

Dilks DD, Cook P, Weiller SK, Berns HP, Spivak M, Berns GS: Awake fMRI reveals a specialized region in dog temporal cortex for face processing. PeerJ, 3:e1115, 2015. 

Berns GS, Brooks AM, Spivak M, Levy K: Functional MRI in awake dogs predicts suitability for assistance work. Sci Rep 7:43704, 2017. 

Berns G: What It's Like to Be a Dog. And Other Adventures in Animal Neuroscience. Basic Books, Sept. 2017. New Yorker Book Review 

Emory University
National Research Council Canada
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