Dogs Think Like Human Children (What Studies Reveal !)

“He thinks he’s people!” We’ve heard (or said) that refrain many times in our lives with our dogs, especially when they do something we think is normally reserved for we humans. But some new findings have given us interesting insights into the way dogs actually think and behave.

Neuroeconomics professor Gregory Berns, writing in an op-ed in the New York Times, believes he has figured out a bit more about puppy cognition than we knew before. Conducting an MRI on his dog Callie and several other dogs who volunteered, Berns noted that the brain scans showed a dog’s emotional capacity being the equivalent of a small human child.

In these findings, dogs were encouraged to enter an MRI simulator in Bern’s living room, finding that dogs experienced an increase in activity in their caudate, the part of the brain that connects the cortex and the brainstem, when they recognized a human’s scent or smelled food. These are similar reactions to humans when food, money or love pop in our brains.

Berns thinks these findings have tremendous implications for the way we should treat our dogs. “The ability to experience positive emotions, like love and attachment, would mean that dogs have a level of sentience comparable to that of a human child. And this ability suggests a rethinking of how we treat dogs.”

Berns isn’t the only person working on this – Reuters recently reported on another study that showed dogs being capable of jealousy, just like humans. In an experiment where dogs were forced to look at their owners playing with an animatronic plush dogs, these dogs pushed their owners and some even barked at the toy.

While these studies are preliminary at best, and nothing is proven, the results of these particular experiments indicates there may be more to our best friends than meets the eye.

Image credit: Flickr

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