Animal Sentience


Domestic dogs are highly social and have been shown to be sensitive not only to the actions of humans and other dogs but to the interactions between them. We used the C-BARQ scale to estimate dogs’ aggressiveness, and we used noninvasive brain imaging (fMRI) to measure activity in their amygdala (an area involved in aggression). More aggressive dogs had more amygdala activation data while watching their caregiver give food to a realistic fake dog than when they put the food in a bucket. This may have some similarity to human jealousy, adding to a growing body of evidence that differences in specific brain activities correlate with differences in canine temperament. The amygdala response habituates when an interaction is observed repeatedly, suggesting that repeated exposures may be a useful behavioral intervention with potentially aggressive dogs.

Author Biography

Peter Cook is Assistant Professor of Psychology at the New College of Florida. He studies animal cognition and comparative neuroscience in a wide range of species. He is particularly interested in finding novel, ecologically valid approaches to studying the brain and behavior outside the traditional laboratory setting. www.ncf.edu/directory/listing/peter-cook/

Ashley Prichard is a doctoral student in Psychology at Emory University with primary research interests in the overlapping areas of animal cognition, neuroscience, and animal behavior. Her current work centers on similarities and differences in perceptual abilities in dogs compared to humans and other species. sites.google.com/view/ashleyprichard

Mark Spivak is President of Comprehensive Pet Therapy. He has trained pets professionally since 1992 and is a widely sought expert in legal cases. He has a special interest in managing dog aggression. cpt-training.com/mark-spivak/

Gregory S. Berns, Distinguished Professor in Psychology, Emory University, directs the Facility for Education & Research in Neuroscience. His research uses fMRI to study canine cognitive function in awake, unrestrained dogs. The goal is to map the perceptual and decision systems of the dog's brain non-invasively. He also uses diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to reconstruct the white matter pathways of a wide variety of other mammals, including dolphins, coyotes, and the extinct Tasmanian tiger. www.ccnl.emory.edu/greg/



Article Thread

Cook, Peter; Prichard, Ashley; Spivak, Mark; and Berns, Gregory S. (2018) Jealousy in dogs? Evidence from brain imaging. Animal Sentience 22(1)

Vonk, Jennifer (2018) Researchers, not dogs, lack control in an experiment on jealousy. Animal Sentience 22(2)