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Old 10-07-2013, 06:40 PM  
Direckshun Direckshun is offline
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Dogs are people, too, apparently.

Pretty fascinating stuff.

Neurologically, your average dog is not that much different than your average child. Neurologists have now confirmed dogs can experience positive emotion on relatively similar levels.

This is pretty profound stuff, at least in my humble estimation. As the piece discusses, there are policy implications that stem from this. If dogs process things similar to children, then our treatment of them must be regulated dramatically more. Puppy mills, laboratory testing, and dog racing all now seem to be losing moral ground, and perhaps deserve to get the ax.

Will be interesting to see where this goes in the courts. My guess is that species-ism will win the day, unfortunately. At least in the short term. But as the evidence continues to build, perhaps man's best friend will get the rights his emotional capacity warrants...

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/06/op...anted=all&_r=0

Dogs Are People, Too
By GREGORY BERNS
Published: October 5, 2013

FOR the past two years, my colleagues and I have been training dogs to go in an M.R.I. scanner — completely awake and unrestrained. Our goal has been to determine how dogs’ brains work and, even more important, what they think of us humans.

Now, after training and scanning a dozen dogs, my one inescapable conclusion is this: dogs are people, too.

Because dogs can’t speak, scientists have relied on behavioral observations to infer what dogs are thinking. It is a tricky business. You can’t ask a dog why he does something. And you certainly can’t ask him how he feels. The prospect of ferreting out animal emotions scares many scientists. After all, animal research is big business. It has been easy to sidestep the difficult questions about animal sentience and emotions because they have been unanswerable.

Until now.

By looking directly at their brains and bypassing the constraints of behaviorism, M.R.I.’s can tell us about dogs’ internal states. M.R.I.’s are conducted in loud, confined spaces. People don’t like them, and you have to hold absolutely still during the procedure. Conventional veterinary practice says you have to anesthetize animals so they don’t move during a scan. But you can’t study brain function in an anesthetized animal. At least not anything interesting like perception or emotion.

From the beginning, we treated the dogs as persons. We had a consent form, which was modeled after a child’s consent form but signed by the dog’s owner. We emphasized that participation was voluntary, and that the dog had the right to quit the study. We used only positive training methods. No sedation. No restraints. If the dogs didn’t want to be in the M.R.I. scanner, they could leave. Same as any human volunteer.

My dog Callie was the first. Rescued from a shelter, Callie was a skinny black terrier mix, what is called a feist in the southern Appalachians, from where she came. True to her roots, she preferred hunting squirrels and rabbits in the backyard to curling up in my lap. She had a natural inquisitiveness, which probably landed her in the shelter in the first place, but also made training a breeze.

With the help of my friend Mark Spivak, a dog trainer, we started teaching Callie to go into an M.R.I. simulator that I built in my living room. She learned to walk up steps into a tube, place her head in a custom-fitted chin rest, and hold rock-still for periods of up to 30 seconds. Oh, and she had to learn to wear earmuffs to protect her sensitive hearing from the 95 decibels of noise the scanner makes.

After months of training and some trial-and-error at the real M.R.I. scanner, we were rewarded with the first maps of brain activity. For our first tests, we measured Callie’s brain response to two hand signals in the scanner. In later experiments, not yet published, we determined which parts of her brain distinguished the scents of familiar and unfamiliar dogs and humans.

Soon, the local dog community learned of our quest to determine what dogs are thinking. Within a year, we had assembled a team of a dozen dogs who were all “M.R.I.-certified.”

Although we are just beginning to answer basic questions about the canine brain, we cannot ignore the striking similarity between dogs and humans in both the structure and function of a key brain region: the caudate nucleus.

Rich in dopamine receptors, the caudate sits between the brainstem and the cortex. In humans, the caudate plays a key role in the anticipation of things we enjoy, like food, love and money. But can we flip this association around and infer what a person is thinking just by measuring caudate activity? Because of the overwhelming complexity of how different parts of the brain are connected to one another, it is not usually possible to pin a single cognitive function or emotion to a single brain region.

But the caudate may be an exception. Specific parts of the caudate stand out for their consistent activation to many things that humans enjoy. Caudate activation is so consistent that under the right circumstances, it can predict our preferences for food, music and even beauty.

In dogs, we found that activity in the caudate increased in response to hand signals indicating food. The caudate also activated to the smells of familiar humans. And in preliminary tests, it activated to the return of an owner who had momentarily stepped out of view. Do these findings prove that dogs love us? Not quite. But many of the same things that activate the human caudate, which are associated with positive emotions, also activate the dog caudate. Neuroscientists call this a functional homology, and it may be an indication of canine emotions.

The ability to experience positive emotions, like love and attachment, would mean that dogs have a level of sentience comparable to that of a human child. And this ability suggests a rethinking of how we treat dogs.

DOGS have long been considered property. Though the Animal Welfare Act of 1966 and state laws raised the bar for the treatment of animals, they solidified the view that animals are things — objects that can be disposed of as long as reasonable care is taken to minimize their suffering.

But now, by using the M.R.I. to push away the limitations of behaviorism, we can no longer hide from the evidence. Dogs, and probably many other animals (especially our closest primate relatives), seem to have emotions just like us. And this means we must reconsider their treatment as property.

One alternative is a sort of limited personhood for animals that show neurobiological evidence of positive emotions. Many rescue groups already use the label of “guardian” to describe human caregivers, binding the human to his ward with an implicit responsibility to care for her. Failure to act as a good guardian runs the risk of having the dog placed elsewhere. But there are no laws that cover animals as wards, so the patchwork of rescue groups that operate under a guardianship model have little legal foundation to protect the animals’ interest.

If we went a step further and granted dogs rights of personhood, they would be afforded additional protection against exploitation. Puppy mills, laboratory dogs and dog racing would be banned for violating the basic right of self-determination of a person.

I suspect that society is many years away from considering dogs as persons. However, recent rulings by the Supreme Court have included neuroscientific findings that open the door to such a possibility. In two cases, the court ruled that juvenile offenders could not be sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. As part of the rulings, the court cited brain-imaging evidence that the human brain was not mature in adolescence. Although this case has nothing to do with dog sentience, the justices opened the door for neuroscience in the courtroom.

Perhaps someday we may see a case arguing for a dog’s rights based on brain-imaging findings.
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Old 10-07-2013, 06:44 PM   #2
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Old 10-07-2013, 06:45 PM   #3
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Great episode.
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Old 10-07-2013, 06:56 PM   #4
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Old 10-07-2013, 06:58 PM   #5
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Old 10-07-2013, 07:04 PM   #6
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Old 10-07-2013, 07:09 PM   #7
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Old 10-07-2013, 07:17 PM   #8
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Not to come off as a pretentious ass, but dogs' similarity to humans physiologically has been known for quite a while. There's a reason most of our physiological findings were in dogs.

Without them, it would have been pretty difficult to advance our understanding of normal human systems and the manipulation of those systems for the benefit of our patients.
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Old 10-07-2013, 07:18 PM   #9
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In a related story........

Woman's best friend: Dogs being trained to sniff out ovarian cancer

By Dr. Marc SiegelPublished October 07, 2013FoxNews.com

By the time ovarian cancer is found, it’s usually too late to save the patient. Buried deep in a woman’s body, it has no telltale signs, and we doctors have no standard tests to diagnose it early.

Over 14,000 women die of ovarian cancer every year in the United States, but like many cancers, it has a characteristic odor – one that the common household dog can be trained to detect before it’s too late. At the University of Pennsylvania, using tumor specimens donated by cancer victims, researchers are putting dogs to work to sniff out cancer.

“The reason dogs are so much better than humans (in detecting cancer) is because dogs have an ability to do what I describe as smell in color,” Dr. Cynthia Otto, director of the Working Dog Center at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, told FoxNews.com. “They look around the room with their nose the same way we look around the room with our eyes. And they can smell each individual component.”

While I was observing two of the cancer sniffing dogs, McBain and Ohlin, not a single error was made. Each time they went right to the container that held the cancerous tissue. The trainer rewarded the successful dogs each time with a complimentary "good boy” affirmation.

The next step in the process, which takes place at the Monell Chemical Senses Center, is to narrow down through analytical chemistry exactly which volatile odors from the cancer the dog is smelling. The researchers do this by using gas chromatography and mass spectroscopy – along with trial and error. This information will be used in the construction of an electronic sensor – or artificial ‘nano-nose’ – that may one day be used in the doctor’s office to diagnose ovarian cancer earlier.

Dr. George Preti, a chemist at the Monell Center, emphasized his hope for the future by holding up an orange and an aspirin.

“This is the size of a tumor when it is generally diagnosed,” Preti said, referring to the orange. “It is hidden inside the female. This is the size when it should be diagnosed; this is an aspirin, and it should be diagnosed when it is about this size. So this is what we are striving for – to go from here where most of the ovarian cancers are diagnosed today to here (the aspirin) or even less than this.”

Preti said that the dogs are already born with the nose, so now we have to build it. That “building” could save thousands of women from a major cancer killer. When ovarian cancer is found early, more than 90 percent of patients survive after five years. It will take an unlikely team of scientists to accomplish this: a dog expert, a renowned chemist, and the cancer specialists at University of Pennsylvania.

Bats and dolphins and their use of echoes led to the development of the ultrasound. Now it’s the turn of man’s (and woman’s) best friend to lead to the better detection of cancer.


Dr. Marc Siegel is an associate professor of medicine and medical director of Doctor Radio at NYU Langone Medical Center. He is a member of the Fox News Medical A Team and author of several books, including "False Alarm; the Truth About the Epidemic of Fear"; He is also the author of "Swine Flu and Bird Flu." His most recent book is The Inner Pulse: Unlocking the Secret Code of Sickness and Health.
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Old 10-07-2013, 07:19 PM   #10
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Old 10-07-2013, 07:31 PM   #11
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Dogs are better than most people. Truth.
If people were more like dogs the world would be a much better place
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Old 10-07-2013, 07:52 PM   #12
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Old 10-07-2013, 07:56 PM   #13
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If people were more like dogs the world would be a much better place
Shitting outside wherever we want would be sweet.
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Old 10-07-2013, 07:59 PM   #14
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I like 100% of dogs. I like 20% of people, and that's on a good day.
What about Pitt Bulls ?
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Old 10-07-2013, 08:01 PM   #15
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