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Peter Cook, Ashley Prichard, Mark Spivak, and Gregory S. Berns, Jealousy in dogs? Evidence from brain imaging

Abstract

Cook et al. (2018) provide a fascinating demonstration of amygdala activation in dogs when they witnessed their owners giving food to another (fake) dog, but not when they placed food in a bucket. Dogs’ neurological responses were positively correlated with their reported levels of ‘dog-directed aggression’ as measured by the C-BARQ, and dogs with initially strong amygdala responses habituated on subsequent trials. The authors interpret their findings as possible evidence for an emotion akin to jealousy in dogs. However, alternate interpretations involving either dog aggression/fear or emotional responses to food seem more plausible and avoid the welfare risks associated with attributing higher-order cognitive capacities to animal companions.


Author Biography

James A. Serpell is the Marie A. Moore Professor of Animal Ethics & Welfare at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania. His research and teaching focus on veterinary ethics, the behavior and welfare of dogs and cats, and human-animal interactions. Website

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