Saturday, May 5, 2012

Dogs Thought Process: What Does Your Dog Think?

Thinking Dogs way is not always the solution to understand what your dog thinks!

Here's an amazing information about a dog project, that was lead by Gregory Berns. Berns spared thoughts on this project not until May, 2011,when the US Navy dogs had been employed to work with SEAL to kill Osama Bin Laden. Berns said, "I was amazed when I saw the pictures of what military dogs can do. I realized that if dogs can be trained to jump out of helicopters and airplanes, we could certainly train them to go into an fMRI to see what they're thinking."


McKenzie in the fMRI scanner ; Berns directing...

What does Rex think when he gazes at your eyes? I am sure you have tried to figure out his feelings and get an idea of what's going on in his mind. it is important to think dogs way in order to explore Rex's thought process. The researchers at the Emory University have come up with a scientific method to get an idea of what is a dog thinking when he seems to be thinking something - means when he alert or gazing at something. The method involves using harmless functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, which is used to study the functionality of human brains. The findings of the first experimentation with the dog's thought process was published by The Public Library of Science (PLoS ONE), explaining how actually a dog's brain functions.

 The director of the Emory Center for Neuropolicy and lead researcher of the dog project, Gregory Berns said, "it was amazing to see the first brain images of a fully awake, unrestrained dog. 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." The aim of the research was to decode the thought process of canines. This was done by recording the specific areas of the dogs' brains that were activated by various stimuli.

The credit all goes to two key persons - Andrew Brooks (a graduate at the Center for Neuropolicy) and Mark Spivak - a professional dog trainer. the major participants were the two dogs: Callie - a 2-year-old southern squirrel-hunting dog and McKenzie - a 3-year-old Border Collie. While Berns (neuroeconomist, who uses fMRI technology to study functionality of human mind) had adopted Callie when she was 9 months old from a dog shelter, McKenzie was already owned by Melissa Cate, and was already trained for agility tests.

Callie and McKenzie were both trained for several months to walk into the scanner and stay there still for the researchers to measure the neural activities of their brains. While doing fMRI of Callie's and Mckenzie's brains the researchers were trying to figure out whether dogs have empathy, and if they could understand their owners' emotions - happiness, sadness and anger. In this experiment with dogs mind the dogs were trained to follow and respond to two non-verbal signals (hand movements), where one sign indicated that the dogs would get their favorite treat, the other indicated that they wouldn't be receiving any! Interestingly, the Caudate region of the dogs' brain that is associated with receiving rewards for humans was found activated for both Callie and MacKenzie.

Bern said, "these results indicate that dogs pay very close attention to human signals, and these signals may have a direct line to the dog's reward system." He also said, "the dog's brain represents something special about how humans and animals came together. It's possible that dogs have even affected human evolution. People who took dogs into their homes and villages may have had certain advantages. As much as we made dogs, I think dogs probably made some part of us, too."

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