og kisses have always been a little mysterious. Is it love? Do they want a treat? Or do they just like the salty taste of our skin? It's love. Right? That's what dog owners have told themselves forever, and now science can back up that claim.
It feels like true love. If you’ve ever had a dog, you know. It’s love. Right?
Or is the dog just in it for our opposable thumbs, which are great for giving out treats?
They do really love treats. And come to think of it, I’m not sure if my dog looks at me quite as adoringly as she looks at bacon.
An Emory University neuroscientist was out to find out once and for all: is it love?
Dr. Gregory Berns’ new book, “What It’s Like to Be a Dog,” details his research in which he used MRI scans to study the brains of dogs. After months of acclimating the dogs to the sounds of the MRI, he scanned them while alternately giving them hot dogs and praise. The same parts of their brains lit up for both. Berns explains, “When we compared their responses and looked at the rewards center of their brains, the vast number of dogs responded to praise and food equally … About 20 percent had stronger responses to praise than to food. From that, we conclude that the vast majority of dogs love us at least as much as food.”
Did you hear that? They love us at least as much!
We knew it was real.
Because MRIs can be noisy and frightening, it took Berns awhile to realize it might be possible to scan dogs this way.
He came up with the idea after seeing a dog jump out of a helicopter with a Navy SEALs team. Berns explains, “Helicopters are incredibly noisy. Dogs have extremely sensitive hearing. I thought, ‘Gee, if the military can train dogs to get into noisy helicopters, it might be possible to get them into noisy MRIs.'”