Gregory Berns Researches Neuroscience And "What It's Like To Be A Dog"

May 25, 2018

This interview was originally broadcast in January, 2018.

Over thousands of years, dogs have earned the title of man’s best friend. Yet even as their companionship brings us personal joy and satisfaction, we may wonder what’s going on inside their heads. Do they adore us as much as we adore them, or do they just see us as reliable dispensers of food?


In his new book, What It’s Like to Be a Dog, and Other Adventures in Animal Neuroscience, bestselling author Gregory Berns describes scientific breakthroughs that show that the brains of dogs and other animals are remarkably similar to those of humans. Dr. Berns is a neuroscientist at Emory University in Atlanta, and he and his research team have successfully taught dogs to sit completely still and unrestrained in MRI scanners. By scanning the dog’s brain activity when it responds to simple tests, the researchers are able to gain new insights into how dogs think and feel.

In his new book, Dr. Berns describes his work with dogs as well as other studies focused  on the thought processes of animals such as dolphins and sea lions. This growing body of research shows that we share characteristics with animals that for centuries were considered solely human, including the ability to dance, feel regret, and find pleasure in a familiar face.

Gregory Berns is the Distinguished Professor of Neuroeconomics at Emory University  and a professor in the Psychology Department. He is the author of several books, including the bestseller, How Dogs Love Us.  He joins us today from the studios at Emory University.