Greg Berns, MD, PhD from Emory University in Atlanta USA, specialises in the use of brain imaging technologies to understand human – and now, canine – motivation and decision-making.
Greg works as a neuroscientist working in the field of canine science. This allows him to use neuroscience techniques to assess how the brain of a dog makes decisions or reacts to stimulus.
In this episode, he speaks to Tim and Mia about his team’s research, named “The Dog Project”, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine brain activity in dogs.
Or to you and me, how dogs think.
Book: How Dogs Love Us
How Dogs Love Us: A neuroscientist and his adopted dog decode the canine brain
For the last 2 years, Greg has pursued his dream of using MRI to decode what dogs really think.
Partnering with a dog trainer, Berns’ group has trained a team of volunteer dogs to hold still in an MRI machine.
Greg explains the sound of an MRI machine to be like a jackhammer, and how the dogs had to be trained to wear ear muffs to protect them from the noise.
The data the team are collecting is revealing startling insights about how a dogs brains work and how they think. They are finding proof dogs really do love us!
In the process, they have broken new ground in elevating the rights of dogs to human-equivalents.
Profile – Greg Berns, Emory University
PloS research article – Functional MRI in Awake Unrestrained Dogs
Opinion (NY Times) – Dogs are People too