If you’ve ever wondered what your dog thinks of you, a new study may just give the answers. Researchers at Emory University developed a new methodology that lets them scan the brains of alert dogs and figure out what really goes on up there.

They use the same functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) that people sometimes go through, but they take this a step further by using different stimuli (hand signals, food, can openers, etc.) to try to find out what means what on the charts.
The studies are still early on, so nothing groundbreaking has been found yet. After showing the dog different hand signals, which trainers often use to teach dogs tricks and then follow up with a treat, they found “these signals may have a direct line to the dog’s reward system,” as stated by Berns.

I disagree. It’s the very definition of groundbreaking! Dogs respond to treats? Who could POSSIBLY have imagined that finding?!?

  1. bobbo, the pragmatic existential evangelical anti-theist and Junior Culture Critic says:

    “The reward system” of the dog’s brain? Ha, ha. This study is even weaker than Uncle Dave presents.

    What does “the same area of the brain lighting up” even mean? In dogs or in humans?

    Is it the same area that lights up when having sex? licking balls? throwing dirt onto a pile of shit? running with the pack?

    What is THAT center of the brain?

    Some part of my brain is lighting up making this association: whats interesting is that different parts of the human brain light up when recalling a fact vs making one up out of thin air–ie, brain scans can tell if one is telling the truth vs lying. Those parts of the brain don’t even exist in dogs or in most Republicans. We are different animals. When you have an animal that responds to hand signals or dog whistles, you have a real pack animal AND areas of the brain that don’t even exist.

    Amusing, all you have to do is ……look.

    • noen says:

      I don’t see what is wrong with using fMRI to determine brain function in dogs. It’s used to find out the neural correlates of consciousness just like for us. Dogs are conscious, sentient animals like we are so it would make sense that if you want to know how doggy consciousness differs from us that is how you would find out.

  2. AdmFubar says:


    • bobbo, the pragmatic existential evangelical anti-theist and Junior Culture Critic says:

      Fubar–that does crack me up. Good meme. Reminds me of seeing “Lootie” and I chuckle just the same. What part of the brain would that be?

  3. Pooch says:

    Dog: You haven’t change your underwear in three days and you have cancer. Now feed me.

  4. sargasso_c says:

    Treats are better than electric shocks.

  5. msbpodcast says:

    I’ve owned dogs and cats and I can report that not one ever saw me as a anything other that a source of food and possibly walkies.

    I don’t worry about them and they don’t worry about me.

    • dusanmal says:

      Which does not mean those animals were not capable of anything else, just that you have raised/trained them to be infantile…
      I have been in situation where my life was literally in hands of the dog analyzing the situation using senses and experience beyond mine and making decisions my life depended on. They are capable of such work.
      (Exact situation: dog sledding deep-in-Alaska, plane ride away from any help. Multiple crossing of partially frozen Foraker river and some smaller streams. All decisions as for where to cross [and if to cross at all] and how to cross were without any human influence and at the lead dog choice… I am still here…)

    • So what says:

      Well some folk do say that pets resemble their owners.

  6. Yankinwaoz says:

    When I read this, I couldn’t help but remember this classic Far Side cartoon about this subject.


    • Jasontheodd says:

      Gary Larson was a man ahead of his time, but he did marry an anthropologist. I’m sure there’s a joke in there somewhere….

  7. Peppeddu says:

    As long as this research is done with good intention (read: taking public funds) I have no problem with it.

    People should question the obvious.

    “Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.” – Lord Kelvin,
    president, Royal Society, 1895.

  8. Ken says:

    If you observe a dog its thought process and philosophy is really very simple.
    1.) Smell the nearest unfamiliar object.
    2.) If you can eat it then eat it. Go to 1.)
    3.) If you can f*ck it then f*ck it. Go to 1.)
    4.) If it wants to fight then fight with it. Go to 1.)
    5.) If you can’t eat, f*ck or fight it then piss on it. Go to 1.)

    Endless loop.


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