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How Dogs Love Us: A Neuroscientist and His Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain
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How Dogs Love Us: A Neuroscientist and His Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  6,562 ratings  ·  715 reviews
The powerful bond between humans and dogs is one that’s uniquely cherished. Loyal, obedient, and affectionate, they are truly “man’s best friend.” But do dogs love us the way we love them? Emory University neuroscientist Gregory Berns had spent decades using MRI imaging technology to study how the human brain works, but a different question still nagged at him: What is my ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published October 22nd 2013 by New Harvest
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Veronica-Lynn Pit Bull
I think I would have been happier just reading the scientific paper; there really wasn't enough material here to justify writing a book. The conclusions that the research reached were gratifying in that they substantiated what any "dog person" already knows; but they were also superfluous in that a real "dog person" doesn't need research to tell them what in their minds is plainly evident.

The book spends allot of time, attention and detail discussing the process by which the dogs were trained to
This book hit a soft spot in me and so pushed my four star rating to a five. For me, dogs are so special that most often books about them cannot properly capture why we love them so much and why they love us back. This is a science that needs to be explored; here the author / neuroscientist is doing just that.

This book grows on you. The further you progress, the more topics of canine interest are touched upon.

I have read quite a number of books on the cognitive abilities and emotions of animals
Sep 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a downright fascinating book! A few months ago, a friend passed on an article from The New York Times on this study, but this firsthand account of the Dog Project at Emory University is (obviously) a much more in-depth and thorough look at getting a functional MRI to help decode the inner workings of the canine mind. Berns perfectly balances the science with his own experiences, love of dogs and even his family life as his whole team works towards their goals. It is surprisingly fast-pac ...more
10/24/17 $.99 for Kindle.

"Eventually, I came to the conclusion that the key to improving dog-human relationships is through social cognition, not behaviorism. Positive reinforcement is a shortcut to train dogs, but it is not necessarily the best way to form a relationship with them. To truly live with dogs, humans need to become “great leaders.” Not dictators who rule by doling out treats and by threatening punishment, but leaders who respect and value their dogs as sentient beings."

This book st
In the interest of transparency, I need to reveal that I'm a "dog person". I grew up with all sorts of dogs: dachshunds, boxers, miniature collies, Norwegian elkhounds, basenjis, Chihuahuas, and pugs. So going in, I was probably going to like this book. A lot.

All that aside, this was an incredibly interesting book. The science and research is something that I would probably enjoy immensely, and the author did an outstanding job of keeping it in layman's terms and understandable for the "regular
Feb 10, 2014 rated it liked it
3.5 Stars

The whole way up to the end of this book, I expected to give it 3 stars at best. Although I'm a fan of authors who weave their personal lives into their books -- Mary Roach and Jon Ronson are both masters at this -- Gregory Berns rubbed me the wrong way. He comes across as smug and superior, and to tell the truth, I was just hanging in there to read about his results. (Berns was the first to scan a non-sedated dog in an MRI.)

A good two-thirds of the book focuses on the author's family,
Dec 09, 2013 rated it it was ok
The author takes a fascinating proband, adds the most exciting area of science; research, and becomes so granular with head positioning, you want to rip your own head off by chapter 8. That is where I started skimming. Written to an audience who appreciates research, but then written to move so slowly, and on a fifth grade reading level, the book demonstrates that you cannot serve two masters. As someone who has worked many years in medical research, I was hoping for more scientific conclusions ...more
Oct 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I just received this book in the mail yesterday afternoon. I started reading it in the evening and was up until midnight when I finally forced myself to put it down. I finished it this afternoon and I really enjoyed it. Everything from how he came up with the idea to how they trained the dogs to go into the MRI and hold still so they could get images from them while they were awake. These tests could enable us to say yes that is what the dogs think, since they can not answer questions. I would r ...more
Oct 07, 2013 rated it liked it
We have all wondered what our pets were thinking (even though we claim to ‘know’). The truth is: we don’t know. Can we look at images of an animal’s brain to know what they are thinking or what drives their behavior? Gregory Berns MD, PH.D, a renowned scientist and professor of neuroeconomics, attempted to decode the inner workings of dogs with his ‘Dog Project’ and discusses his adventure in, “How Dogs Love Us: A Neuroscientist and his Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain”.

One would naturally as
Chris Craddock
Sep 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Let Me Count the Ways

How Dogs Love Us by Neuroscientist Gregory Burns tells the story of a promising experiment that scans the canine brain to confirm or deny the theory that dogs actually DO love us. But first they have to get the dogs to climb into the Magnetic Resonance Imaging contraption, hold their heads perfectly still in spite of the unearthly racket the machine makes, while wearing ear muffs to protect their sensitive ears. While Cally, a Super Feist, will do virtually anything for a ch
Jan 14, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have to say that I expected more from this book based on the title. Since I am a dog lover, of course I'm going to love the premise of the book, however, it failed to deliver. Maybe it's not the fault of the author as much as it is the fault of technology. If you posit to answer a question like how “a neuroscientist and his adopted dog decode the canine brain” than you need to deliver.

The book was slow to develop. Maybe because when it's all said and done the science is still young, but it was
Jan 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2017

This book goes to a lot of trouble to tell us what any dog owner already knows: our dogs love us just because they do. They only ask for our love and companionship in return.
J L's Bibliomania
I was not particularly impressed by How Dogs Love Us: A Neuroscientist and His Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain. While I understand that training an unsedated dog to tolerate and cooperate in the sensory onslaught of an MRI is an achievement, telling the backstory of a single scientific paper involving two dogs did not seem sufficient to warrant an entire book. I also have issue with the book's title, since the study in question - determining which portion of the dog brain responds to the han ...more
"Eventually I came to the conclusion that the key to improving dog-human relationships is through social cognition, not behaviorism. Positive reinforcement is a shortcut to train dogs, but it is not necessarily the best way to form a relationship with them. To truly live with dogs, humans need to become 'great leaders.' Not dictators who rule by doling out treats and by threatening punishment, but leaders who respect and value their dogs as sentient being."

Gregory Berns alternates between a scie
Joe Kessler
Feb 18, 2017 rated it it was ok
The science is interesting, but the writing is stilted and the author frequently comes off as arrogant. Plus, as he admits, the fMRI research on dogs really just confirms what pet-owners have known about the social intelligence of these animals for centuries. It's cool that canine brain activity is being studied, and I appreciate that Berns and his team are going about it so ethically, but this was not an essential read. ...more
Derek Arnold
Dec 26, 2014 rated it it was ok
Loved the idea, but not really what I expected. Out of 25 or so chapters in the book, there are actual dog brain MRI results in only a small handful. More of a story than a presentation of any consequential data. However, the project is ongoing and I'd be interested to read Berns' further work. ...more
Sep 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A very interesting look at the brains of dogs, and maybe a small insight into the way they perceive the world. I personally 'own' three dogs, although I'd say with all honesty that two of them think of me as a food bearer and little else. My partner is Danny's entire world though, and I know if there is a doggy version of love, then he feels it for him. Bob is the youngest dog, and notices no human. The eldest dog, Danny, is his entire world. Then there's Austin, the middle child. I don't know i ...more
Jul 27, 2016 rated it liked it
This is a great book for people who love dogs and want to understand their pets better through a balanced neurological perspective. In debunking several popular myths about dogs through his experiment and research, Berns certainly changed the way I will interact with my dogs from now on. I was happy that he respected his reader enough to fully explain some heady scientific information, but also included a parallel arc of sweet and engaging personal stories.

I also learned a lot about everyday sci
Brenda Gadd
Nov 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. Even though there is no scientific way, as yet, to measure the title , How Dogs Love Us.
What I loved was following a scientific experiment. You have the idea. You work with an MRI all the time. But no one has really looked at a dog's brain, without sedation. Through an elaborate system of dog training (with hot dogs as treats), teaching a dog to wear ear muffs for sound, and hold still... they MRI dogs wide awake. All this, is a situation where lawyers and faculty consultants
Cora Lee
Aug 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
4 and 1/2 stars. Well written and very easy to read, even if you remember little from your high school science classes. Tissues might be needed toward the end! The only thing that kept this from being 5 stars for me is the lack of detail regarding the expansion of the Dog Project. The author mentions that, after the initial 2 dogs, more were trained and scanned, but doesn't elaborate beyond that. I wanted very much to know about the experiments performed with those other dogs, and the data that ...more
Mar 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Especially recommended if you like science and you like dogs. I don't want to give away the punch line as to how and why dogs love us, but the conclusion made a lot of sense to my husband and I, and we've been living with and training dogs for over 25 years. Interesting experiments and a group of enthusiastic lab folks, and Berns who is a MD and PhD and a man who wants to better understand the way the dog's brain works and how that relates to his or her emotional life related to humans. ...more
Julie Stoops
Sep 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-dogs
Reviewing this book was difficult - some parts I would give a 1, and some were a 5, so I split the difference. There was really too much extraneous detail that drew the book out quite unnecessarily, but I did learn some things and enjoyed hearing about The Dog Project and all the pups. I’m glad to have read the book and appreciate the author’s respect for and kindness towards the dogs - I wish more researchers would evolve in the same way.
Sarah Gonzalez
Aug 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I listened to the audiobook on a long drive. Very interesting to listen to, and I loved the personal anecdotes. Great for anyone who is a dog lover or interested in dog neurobiology!
Jim Dooley
Apr 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you are a "dog person" and have always wondered if your furry friend saw you as anything more than a source for food or was capable of genuine emotional feelings, this is a "must read" book. Intrigued by the question, "Does my dog love me?" Neuroscientist, Gregory Berns, sets out to find the answer using MRI brain scans.

For years, scientists have been able to identify functions, responses, and possible emotions in the human brain by scanning that organ and seeing what areas "light up" during
Feb 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
While I consider myself a "dog person" (I write letters to my sister's miniature schnauzer) I am also a scientist and by default must question scientific endeavors. At first I was skeptical about this study, and I still definitely think that some of the conclusions are far-reaching--the last chapter is classic scientist convincing you that what he studies is the most important thing in the world--but since I am not reviewing this for scientific merit and impact, then I'll say it was a fun read. ...more
Nov 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Having read this, I have to assert that this is kind of a weird title when measured against the content of the book. I'm thinking Marketing picked this title. While the question of love from our dogs does get answered from a neurological-heavy perspective, that doesn't happen until like, the back 10% of the book, with the previous couple of hundred pages being concerned with the thinking behind what they wanted to do, the scientific methodology behind it, and endless diversions into the parts of ...more
Feb 10, 2017 rated it liked it
This book is a mixed bag. The first half is about training dogs to enter and stay still in a fMRI long enough to get a proper scan. While interesting, after awhile you kind of go, "Yep, I get it. Can we please get to the results already."

I guess this approach makes the results all that more interesting, to some extent. Plus, you get a better idea of what goes on in an experiment such as this. The trial and error. The discussion about what you may or may not have found. Then the ideas on how to i
Brenda Cooper
Jun 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting book, but there was only enough actual information in it for a few chapters. I listened to the audio edition, and its very well written and narrated, but I felt like I wanted a lot more. There was a ton of background on the experiment, and the findings ARE important (I am a true dog lover with three dogs), but I was periodically bored of the details. Perhaps if I were less educated about dogs it would have been more fascinating. Still, a good book that may help advance our shared und ...more
Shalini Nemo
It is good to find like-minded souls. In this case, I am glad to read the experiences and studies of a scientist who loves and respects dogs as much as I do. I hope the Dog Project receives the funding it deserves so that the good work can continue. It is high time man's best friend is really, truly understood for the wondrous beings that they are. ...more
Beverly Laude
Mar 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
As a Veterinarian and a dog lover, I enjoyed this book a lot. Gregory Berns is a neuroscientist who studies the brain and how it functions. When he decides to study dog's brains, he ventures into uncharted territory. Conducing an MRI on a canine brain while the dog is awake is no easy task and Dr. Berns soon discovered how hard the task would be to complete.

The book goes into a great deal of detail about how an MRI machine works, the behavioral training of dogs, and the many obstacles of trainin
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Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Emory University and Biomedical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology.

* Ph.D. University of California, Davis, 1990
* M.D. University of California, San Diego, 1994

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