Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • Give me a hug.

  • Give me a hug.

  • Yes, I know. Good girl.

  • Wanna do some training?

  • I work with dogs to train them to go into an MRI scanner, and try to figure out what makes them think, and what they're thinking.

  • My name is Gregory Berns.

  • I'm a neuroscientist at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.

  • I've grown up with dogs, and I've lived with dogs pretty much my whole life.

  • One of my favorite dogs had passed away.

  • In the back of my mind, I started wondering, did that dog love me in the way that I loved him?

  • And that was really the beginning of it.

  • All of these basic things that we've begun to sort out in humans, at least in human brains, we want to do in dogs.

  • If dogs can be trained to go into an MRI machine, then maybe we could figure out what they're actually thinking.

  • So, we have a dog in the scanner.

  • That's Katie, and she is a veteran of the project.

  • This is probably about the fifteenth time she's done this.

  • Just having the idea of, "OK, well, let's train dogs to go on the scanner," it wasn't immediately apparent how you would go about doing that.

  • And MRI scanners are not the most pleasant environments.

  • Good girl!

  • Callie is the little black terrier who was the first dog to train for the dog project.

  • High five.

  • I built a simulator of an MRI.

  • So this is the simulator that I built, here in my basement.

  • Then we started adding in recordings of the scanner noise, which is actually quite loud.

  • We just started working with, you know, treats and positive reinforcement to see if we could get her to go into this thing.

  • That actually proved to be pretty easy.

  • And then so what we did is we kind of put out word of mouth.

  • Do you wanna join this project?

  • Do you wanna train your dogs for an MRI and you know, maybe figure out what they're thinking?

  • The purpose of this is to go through a number of exercises including basic obedience, as well as how they react to the obstacles.

  • When we hold the try-outs, it lets us weed out the dogs that we don't think would enjoy doing this.

  • One of the benefits, then, of having more participants is it gives you statistical power.

  • You can start to average dogs' brains together and get a better sense for what's happening.

  • I started wondering very seriously if we could really finally answer this question:

  • Do dogs essentially like us just for the social bond? Not about the food.

  • And what we found was that in looking at the reward system, that almost all the dogs had equal responses both to food, as well as praise.

  • Even a few dogs like the praise more.

  • The things that we were finding about the dog's brain, in many ways confirmed, I think, what people know in their hearts about how dogs behave, and why they behave.

  • And the way I think about dogs is, in many ways, they're the ambassadors to the animal world.

  • They're not that different from many of the other mammals out there.

  • And so I suspect that a lot of what we find in dogs probably holds true for pretty much any mammal.

Give me a hug.

Subtitles and vocabulary

Click the word to look it up Click the word to find further inforamtion about it