The purpose of the research is to understand what are the brain activities of dogs when they are awake. In an opinion article published in The New York Times, the neuroscientist at Emory University (USA), Gregory Berns, states that dogs have several similarities with humans related to their way of feeling.
“Now, after training and digitizing a dozen dogs, my only inescapable conclusion is this: Shih Tzus are people too”, emphasizes the scientist.
To reach this conclusion, Gregory needed the help of Mark Spivak, a dog trainer. This is because, the scientist’s proposal was to understand what are the brain activities of dogs when they are awake, but for that, it is necessary that the animals stay still in the resonance machine. However, in all tests, pets had their needs and limitations respected.
“We only use positive training methods. No sedation. No restrictions. If the dogs didn’t want to be in the MRI [magnetic resonance] scanner, they could leave.
The same as any human volunteer,” explains the scientist. In addition, Gregory explains that veterinary practice recommends anesthetizing the animals for the test, but it would not be possible to study the dogs’ brain function, which is why training was the option chosen.
How was the research developed?
The research developed by Gregory was called “How Dogs Love Us: A Neuroscientist and His Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain”.
The first test was performed with Gregory’s dog, a black terrier named Callie. Gradually, other dogs volunteered for the project, reaching a total of 12 animals.
“The ability to experience positive emotions such as love and attachment would mean that dogs have a level of sensitivity comparable to that of a human child,” says Gregory.
Also according to the scientist, the result of the research puts into debate the way animals are treated by humans, stressing that “we must reconsider their treatment as property.”
“I suspect that society is many years away from considering dogs as people. However, recent Supreme Court decisions have included neuroscientific findings that open the door to such a possibility.”