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What Is Your Dog ‘Thinking’? Scientists Might Now Have Idea

Is your dog thinking? about you?
(Photo by Rolando Gil/Cover/Getty Images)

Your dog looks at you with a puzzled face, head tilted to the side.  What is he or she thinking? It’s almost as if they are trying to understand.

Now scientists, using two dogs who were trained to sit and walk around inside an MRI unit, have some great glimpses into the working of the canine mind.   Researchers at the Emory University Center For Neropolicy trained two dogs to walk around inside the MRI unit.  They also trained the two dogs with certain hand signals; one indicating the dog would get a treat, the other they would not.  When the dogs saw the treat signal, the MRI showed distinctive activity in what is called the ‘caudate’ region of the brain.  In human brains, this region is often associated with rewards or related stimulus.  When they saw the ‘no treat’ signal, that part of the brain showed no increase in activity.

  Researchers concluded that dogs pay very close attention to the signals they receive from humans.  They also plan further study to try to figure out how human facial expressions and other data are represented in a dog’s mind.

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