According to a new study, dogs use the same area of the brain to feel as we do. Of course we already know that our dogs have feelings, as they show us every day. But exciting scientific research like this might someday be enough to change laws about the treatment of dogs.
Gregory Burns, a US scientist, trained his dog Callie to sit completely still in a custom-made MRI brain-scanning machine that he built in his own living room. She learned to walk into the machine, place her head on a chin rest and even wear earmuffs while sitting still for up to 30 seconds during the noisy scan. With the help of a dog trainer, he then spent several months training other volunteer dogs to participate in the study too.
It was found that a particular area of the dogs’ brains became activated in response to hand signals promising food, the smell of their owners and to the return of their owner after they had momentarily stepped out of sight. In humans, the exact same area of the brain becomes activated in the anticipation of things that make us happy such as food, love and money.
Based on this demonstration of positive emotion, which may indicate feelings such as love and attachment, the study concluded that dogs may have the same level of sentience as a human child.
1. Dogs have feelings too! Neuroscientist reveals research that our canine friends have emotions just like us. (2013). Daily Mail: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2447991/Dogs-FEELINGS-Neuroscientist-reveals-research-canine-friends-emotions-just-like-us.html