Do Dogs Love Us the Way We Love Them?

Nov 12, 2013

Credit saxcubano/flickr creative commons

From Faith Middleton: A neuroscientist has been working on decoding the canine brain, to answer the question of what dogs are thinking and feeling. So, do they love us the way we love them? Does a rescued dog understand you have rescued it, and feel grateful in a specific sense?

Our guest, Dr. Gregory Berns, has spent years using MRI imaging technology to study humans. When he adopted a dog, he began to wonder if he could train some to sit still long enough in an MRI machine to reveal how the canine brain works. 

Remarkably, Dr. Berns and his team were able to persuade his own dog, along with other dogs, to sit through the MRI scanning wearing earmuffs. We talk about Dr. Berns's findings.

Dogs love in a particular way and appear to empathize with human emotion. Canines are a great deal more like people than we realize. Should this mean we change our legal and personal relationships with dogs? (In some countries, dogs are even killed and eaten.)

The notion we hold that a dog thinks of itself as "pack leader" could be a mistake.

Call in and tell us why you agree or disagree with Dr. Berns's research findings. In other words, does your dog love you the way you love your dog? Dr. Gregory Berns is the Distinguished Professor of Neuroeconomics at Emory University. He lives in Atlanta with his spouse, children and three dogs.

Join the conversation by email, on Twitter, or on Facebook.


  • Gregory Berns is the author of How Dogs Love Us.

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