By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer
If you’ve ever played fetch with a dog, it’s hard to ignore the sense that he’s having the time of his life! His tongue hangs out his panting mouth while his tail wags faster than ever.
Still, it’s silly to think that dogs can feel anything we humans can… right? Well, if you asked neuroscientist Gregory Berns of Emory University, he’d say you were wrong!
Usually, researchers study behaviors to guess what animals are feeling, but Berns decided to take a peek inside some doggie heads for insight. Don’t worry, he didn’t cut the animals open or anything!
Instead, he’s been scanning dog brains with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines for the past 2 years.
“By looking directly at their brains and bypassing the constraints of behaviorism, MRIs can tell us about dogs’ internal states,” said Berns.
What he discovered was that canines experience the same brain activities humans do when feeling strong emotions! In particular, the dogs showed high activity in a region known as the “caudate nucleus,” which is usually associated with happy expectations. The researcher claims this is enough to prove that any pooch feels emotion in the same way we do, they just can’t express it with words.
If you have a pet that seems to be enjoying himself, he probably is in a super happy place, and all it takes is a quick game of fetch to make it happen! Why can’t it be the same for humans?