How do our pets feel about us? Bored with studying the way that humans make decisions, neuroscientist Gregory Berns decided to find out. He used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to make the world’s first maps of the canine brain.
One of the things Berns wanted to know is whether dogs have emotional lives, or if they’re purely driven by rewards such as food. He soon learned that the animals have a remarkable capacity for empathy and love. But they also really, really like hot dogs.
Here’s a piece of canine wisdom to chew on: Making a special effort to understand your companion might help you live a fuller, better life.
Dogs have spent tens of thousands of years co-evolving with humans. By drawing on their capacity for empathy, dogs learned to discern what we value in them as companions. Over time, their facial expressions altered to be more expressive, for instance—which is one reason why it’s so easy for us to tell when they’re hungry!The lesson readily applies to our everyday lives. By drawing on the power of empathy, it’s easy to build strong bonds with our family, friends, and colleagues. Good relationships are a satisfying emotional reward in themselves. But they also help ensure our survival by helping us stay happy, healthy, and safe.
To find out what else we can learn from our furry friends, visit our Instaread on HOW DOGS LOVE US.