Have an account? Please log in.
Text size: Small font Default font Larger font
Radiology Daily
Radiology Daily PracticalReviews.com Radiology Daily

Hold Still So We Can Get An MRI; Good Dog!

May 7, 2012
Written by: , Filed in: Neuroradiology
  • Comments

Do dogs truly have empathy? Can they really detect human emotions? How much human language do they actually understand?

Neuroscientists at Emory University in Atlanta hope to answer those and other questions about canine cognition through functional MRI scans of dogs’ brains. So far, they’ve learned that when a dog receives a hand signal indicating that it is about to receive a treat, the caudate region of the brain, which is associated with rewards in humans, shows activity. A hand signal indicating that the dog will not be getting a treat does not trigger caudate activity.

Well, it’s a start.

If you’re remembering the old Far Side cartoon about what dogs hear, we can’t exactly blame you. But Gregory S. Berns, PhD, MD, the neuroeconomist who led the study, argues that the mental processes of the first animal species that humans domesticated—as long as 30,000 years ago—are certainly worth investigating:

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.

Dr. Berns was quoted in an Emory news release, which includes video.

The researchers used two dogs trained to be still in an MRI machine (with the aid of earmuffs to attenuate the noise). Callie is a 2-year-old feist (a squirrel-hunting breed) that Berns adopted from a shelter. McKenzie is a 3-year-old border collie trained by her owner, Melissa Cate, for agility competitions.

The dogs enter the scanner willingly and are not restrained. They have been trained to hold their heads motionless on a chin rest during the scans.

A paper about the study is scheduled to be published through the Public Library of Science (PLoS ONE). It’s available here.

Emory, incidentally, seems to be something of a pioneer in using dogs for higher education. The university also has made canine therapy available in its law library for stress relief during studying for finals.

* * *

Radiologists are generally happy people who politically are both more conservative and more liberal than average. That, at least, is what a Medscape survey found earlier this year. For all the happy details, see our Facebook page.

Related seminar: Musculoskeletal MR Imaging (all-new release)


Permalink: http://www.radiologydaily.com/?p=8615


  • No Related Posts
  • Comments

Would you like to keep current with radiological news and information?

Post Your Comments and Responses

One Response to “Hold Still So We Can Get An MRI; Good Dog!”

  1. Radiology Daily»AlertArchive » MRI Persuades Researcher Dogs Are People on October 17th, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    […] University in Atlanta. For two years, he has used functional MRI to study dogs’ brains, as we reported in May 2012. He trains dogs to hold still in an MRI scanner and wear earmuffs to reduce the noise, as shown in […]