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Scientists Read Dogs Minds!


Scientists Read Dogs Minds!

(ePharmaNews) - Dogs' lovers spend a lot of time with their four-legged friends and spend even more telling others how much they enjoy being with their pets, and although the question "Are dogs enjoying their time as well?" sounds a little bit ironic, a group of American researchers does not think so.

Emory University researchers have developed a new methodology to scan the brains of alert dogs and explore the minds of the oldest domesticated species. The technique uses harmless functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), the same tool that is unlocking secrets of the human brain.

The Public Library of Science (PLoS ONE) is publishing the results of their first experiment, showing how the brains of dogs reacted to hand signals given by their owners.
“It was amazing to see the first brain images of a fully awake, unrestrained dog,” says Gregory Berns, director of the Emory Center for Neuropolicy and lead researcher of the dog project. “As far as we know, no one has been able to do this previously. We hope this opens up a whole new door for understanding canine cognition and inter-species communication. We want to understand the dog-human relationship, from the dog’s perspective.”


Two dogs are involved in the project. Both were trained over several months to walk into an fMRI scanner and hold completely still while researchers measured their neural activity.
The researchers aim to decode the mental processes of dogs by recording which areas of their brains are activated by various stimuli. Ultimately, they hope to get at questions like: Do dogs have empathy? Do they know when their owners are happy or sad? How much language do they really understand?
In the first experiment, the dogs were trained to respond to hand signals. One signal meant the dog would receive a hot dog treat, and another signal meant it would not receive one. The caudate region of the brain, associated with rewards in humans, showed activation in both dogs when they saw the signal for the treat, but not for the no-treat signal.

“These results indicate that dogs pay very close attention to human signals,” Berns says. “And these signals may have a direct line to the dog’s reward system.”
He adds that dog lovers don't need such evidence, they trust their sense and ability to read dogs minds, but Berns refers to "To the skeptics out there... dogs are the first domesticated species, going back at least 10,000 years" and adds: "As much as we made dogs, I think dogs probably made some part of us, too.”
During the study, dogs were warm and comfortable enough that it turned out to be a joyful experience for them, as the trainer has described one of the dogs' behavior: "She enters the scanner on her own, without a command, sometimes when it’s not her turn, She’s eager to participate."

This study reminds us with the "Google Translate for Animals" which is a newly launched application for android phone to translate what domestic animals ,like cats, dogs and donkeys, might "say" through recording the animal's voice and matching it with the records. The service is accompanied by a note :"It is not Google’s responsibility if you are offended or disappointed by what your chosen animal may say."!!


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Prepared by: Laila Nour


Source :

ePharmaNews






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