Dr. Gregory Berns – TRANSCRIPT
How many of you are dog people? A show of hands. Excellent! How about cat people? OK, you guys can go to the break early. So, of the dog people and the cat people who want to be dog people, how many of you have thought, “Wouldn’t it be great to know what my dog is thinking?” I think everyone else already knows what their dog is thinking, right? I got into this project, and I’m going to tell you a little bit about how – This is basically a stupid dog trick story.
It really started with this dog named Newton, who was really my favorite dog. I’ve had many dogs through my life, but Newton was my favorite, and he lived to be about 15 years old. After he passed away, I thought, I have these tools, this MRI machine, that I have been using for decades to study human decision making and what motivates people, why haven’t we used this on other animals?
Certainly, other animals have many of the same feelings and motivations that people do. But this is kind of an area of science that people don’t like to talk about. So I embarked on this project about four years ago to try to figure out what dogs think, and specifically what dogs think of us. If we’re talking about humans, we have kind of two ways we can think about what other people are thinking: we can either ask them, and sometimes they will tell us if they know, and they want us to know what they are thinking; or we can observe actions, we can observe behaviors, we can try to infer things about what people are thinking from their actions.