Callie is a 2-year-old Southern squirrel hunter who knows how to sit still. Researchers at Emory University trained her to crawl into the cylindrical bore of an fMRI brain scanner, hold her head motionless, and recognise hand signals. She’s part of a new effort to understand how dogs think.
Early results show, for example, that when her owner signals that she’s about to receive a doggy treat, neural activity increases in the caudate region of her brain – the same region associated with rewards in humans. The researchers hope to settle long-standing debates over how much language dogs understand and whether they feel empathy. – Alex Hutchinson