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MRI Scans Show Dogs Have Human-Like Emotions

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For the past 2 years, neuroscientist Gregory Berns of Emory University has been doing a series of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of dogs.  The testing included his own pet terrier.

Berns told the New York Times that his findings show that dogs have the same capacity to experience emotions, such as love and attachment, as humans.   Many of us long-time dog owners already knew this to be a fact.

Because dogs can’t speak, Berns said that scientists have relied on behavioral observations to better understand what dogs are thinking.  This can be tricky he added.

Along with his friend who is a dog trainer, Berns trained his dog and other canine volunteers to enter the MRI scanner in order measure the dogs’ brain responses to 2 hand signals.   Through those tests, Berns noted a striking similarity between dogs and humans in a region of the brain associated with anticipation and things we enjoy.

Because of the finding, Berns said it’s possible that dogs experience a level of emotion comparable to human kids.  He told the Times that people need to reconsider how they think of their dogs.   I believe many of us dog lovers have already done that.   Many treat their pets as well as, if not better than there own children.

New York Times

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