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Dr. Greg Berns with Callie

Tuesday, October 20, 2020
at 12 PM – 12:50 PM EST

Part of the Animal Matters Seminar Series
presented by Tufts Center for Animals and Public Policy

Gregory S. Berns, PhD, MD
Distinguished Professor of Neuroeconomics and Director of the Center for Neuropolicy
and Facility for Education and Research in Neuroscience (FERN)
Professor in Psychology Department, Emory University

Recorded seminar:

The domestic dog’s accessibility, social intelligence, and co-evolutionary history with humans provide a unique opportunity to study homologous brain function in a naturalistic way that cannot be done with any other species. Dr. Berns will show how dogs can be trained to cooperatively participate in fMRI studies – without restraint or anesthesia – and how this has opened up a wealth of new data about canine brain function. These results have identified the circuitry of potentially homologous functions ranging from reward and face processing to rudiments of language perception. And because dogs live with humans, they offer a unique opportunity to study the neurobiology of inter-species social cognition. Dogs also suffer from emotional/cognitive disorders that appear similar to those in humans, notably anxiety and cognitive decline, raising the possibility of studying a common neurobiology for such disorders (whether evolved or acquired from a shared environment). Finally, because the dogs participate in repeated scan sessions over their lifetimes, the project has created a unique longitudinal cohort, which, in some cases has allowed the detection of CNS tumors before symptoms appear and the monitoring of tumor regression following radiation treatment.

Made possible by the generous support of Elizabeth A. Lawrence Endowed Fund

About Tufts Center for Animals and Public Policy
The mission of the Tufts Center for Animals and Public Policy is to conduct and encourage the study of complex issues surrounding the changing role and impact of animals in society. The Center supports the development and dissemination of research-driven policies, programs, and practices that benefit both people and animals.

Work conducted by the Center is based on the tenets that animal well-being matters, that animal and human well-being are linked and that both are enhanced through improved understanding of human-animal relationships.