Dogs are people, too

October 9, 2013

Sacha, a thoughtful and emotional doggy (credit: Giulio Prisco)

“After training and MRI-scanning a dozen dogs, my one inescapable conclusion is this: dogs are people, too,” says Gregory Berns, a professor of neuroeconomics at Emory University and the author of How Dogs Love Us: A Neuroscientist and His Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain at The New York Times.

“Many of the same things that activate the human caudate [part of the brain], which are associated with positive emotions, also activate the dog caudate. Neuroscientists call this a functional homology, and it may be an indication of canine emotions.

“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. …

“One alternative is a sort of limited personhood for animals that show neurobiological evidence of positive emotions. … Perhaps someday we may see a case arguing for a dog’s rights based on brain-imaging findings.”