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How Dogs Love Us: A Neuroscientist and His Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain [Kindle Edition]

Gregory Berns
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (577 customer reviews)

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Book Description

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 dog thinking?

After his family adopted Callie, a shy, skinny terrier mix, Berns decided that there was only one way to answer that question—use an MRI machine to scan the dog’s brain. His colleagues dismissed the idea. Everyone knew that dogs needed to be restrained or sedated for MRI scans. But if the military could train dogs to operate calmly in some of the most challenging environments, surely there must be a way to train dogs to sit in an MRI scanner.

With this radical conviction, Berns and his dog would embark on a remarkable journey and be the first to glimpse the inner workings of the canine brain. Painstakingly, the two worked together to overcome the many technical, legal, and behavioral hurdles. Berns’s research offers surprising results on how dogs empathize with human emotions, how they love us, and why dogs and humans share one of the most remarkable friendships in the animal kingdom.

How Dogs Love Us answers the age-old question of dog lovers everywhere and offers profound new evidence that dogs should be treated as we would treat our best human friends: with love, respect, and appreciation for their social and emotional intelligence.

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at The Dog Project


“This book’s abundant appeal and value come from following Berns through the challenges of constructing the experiment and especially of training his dog to participate. ‘Like a catcher and pitcher,’ he writes, he and his dog ‘became a team.’ The satisfaction of that relationship perhaps explains why our two species have lived together so long and happily.” The Boston Globe

"A neuroscientist wonders what goes on in the minds of our pet dogs: Do we delude ourselves when we believe that they love us? [How Dogs Love Us is] a solid introduction to an appealing new area of research." —Kirkus

“How Dogs Love Us offers a personal view in the investigative mind of this gifted neuroscientist and the impact he has on his research collaborators, as well as on his wife and children. Readers will enjoy thinking outside the box along with Berns and will learn a lot at the same time.” —Neurology Today

"The book is as much a scientific exploration of how the canine brain might function as it is a deeply personal story about Berns's relationship with dogs as pets and colleagues. Ultimately that connection is what makes the book compelling." Scientific American MIND

“Thoroughly enjoyable and edifying…Five out of five stars…highly recommended.” Your Dog

"In the fascinating book How Dogs Love Us, [Berns] recounts the methods his team employed, and how their pet dogs made these groundbreaking studies possible. There’s much to learn in this engrossing read." —Bark Magazine

“Neuroscientist Gregory Berns studies dog brains to answer that eternal question: Do our dogs really love us?” Men’s Journal

“The journey Berns and his team embarked on, and are continuing, is as remarkable as the study’s conclusions to date. Berns proves what most pet lovers have always known. Our dogs are much like us.” The Akron Beacon Journal

"How Dogs Love Us is a fascinating account of a scientist's tenacious pursuit of the unknown. Gregory Berns's account of his lab's Dog Project provides readers with new insights into the minds of our most loyal companions while also reminding us that scientific research should be approached with passion, love, and a bold disregard for the possibility of failure." —Dan Ariely, author of The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty

"An exciting journey to the center of a dog's emotional mind. Berns offers hilarious descriptions of training his dog to lie still while being fed hot dogs in the MRI brain-scan machine." —Temple Grandin, author of Animals Make Us Human

"With infectious passion for dogs, science, life, and love, Gregory Berns takes us on a rollicking yet scientifically serious study of the mental life of dogs-what dogs understand and how they think. Berns's tale is a dramatic but very funny look at how real, grubby science can accomplish great things. This is dognitive science at its insightful, passionate, and playful best." —Patricia Churchland, author of Touching a Nerve

"How Dogs Love Us is the beautifully written story of an iconoclastic neuroscientist challenging the status quo and seeking to truly understand the dogs with whom we share our lives." —Jennifer Arnold, author of Through a Dog's Eyes

"Amazingly entertaining and super smart. In How Dogs Love Us, Gregory Berns gives us our first real look inside the brain of a dog, while simultaneously setting new standards in  ethical science. A truly great read!" —Steven Kotler, author of A Small Furry Prayer

"Gregory Berns's book, packed with solid scientific research and warm personal stories, will set the agenda for future research on the minds and emotional lives of animals." —Marc Bekoff, author of The Emotional Lives of Animals

"Fast, fun, and funny, Gregory Berns demonstrates scientifically that dogs are people, too." —Laurence Gonzales, author of Surviving Survival

"Gregory Berns's amusing story about his dogs, his daughters, and a giant magnet communicates as no other what fun science can be." —Frans de Waal, author of The Bonobo and the Atheist

"This book lets you see inside the mind of a dog as never before. How Dogs Love Us will revolutionize how we understand animals—especially our dogs. This is a must-read for animal lovers and neuroscientists alike."—Brian Hare, author of The Genius of Dogs

“Berns is an excellent writer. His explanations of the scientific thinking behind the Dog Project (as he calls his experiment) are crisp and clear and accessible to a nonscientist without being condescending…Some of the best parts of How Dogs Love Us, though, are about the questions, not the answers. In his account of the slow, meticulous, day-to-day process of creating a scientific study, Berns has produced one of the best accounts of how science is "done."” —Chicago Reader

"How Dogs Love Us makes a thought-provoking and often humorous case for something canine lovers have suspected for years: dogs are not simply 'Pavlovian learning machines' but, rather, sentient beings with a high level of empathy and an affinity for social learning. In answering his original question, he sparks many more about how we value and care for our canine companions." -Kirsten Galles, Shelf Awareness

“Berns’s book is a beautiful story about dogs, love and neurology that shows how nonhuman relationships are inspiring researches to look at animals in new ways, for their benefit and ours.” —Rebecca Skloot, New York Times Book Review

Product Details

  • File Size: 18103 KB
  • Print Length: 272 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1922247316
  • Publisher: Amazon Publishing; 1 edition (October 22, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,533 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
179 of 184 people found the following review helpful
By Joanna
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I love reading about the neuroscience of human brains and was so excited to read what this book had to say about dogs' brains. Unfortunately, the book doesn't have much of that relative to the lenghty information about the processes and procedures necessary to make it possible to test dogs' brains. The author writes very well, obviously cares about dogs, and can be quite entertaining in writing about them, but I just wasn't that interested in so much explantion of the preparations and methods used to get dogs to cooperate for MRIs. I wanted to read mainly about the supposed findings: how dogs love us and the decoding of their brains. The information on that seemed relatively scant and not all that satisfying, about a long article's worth instead of a whole book's worth. I think this approach will appeal most to those interested in the nuts and bolts of scientific research and training dogs rather than to dog lovers who crave detailed information about their pets' inner worlds. The palpable love and understanding of dogs in the book was a real plus for me, but the narrrative did not focus enough on what the title said it would. Three and a half stars--and a definite vote to buy the follow-up in a few years after they've conducted more research and can elucidate more.
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155 of 172 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Written backwards but still great! September 22, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
First of all, this book is written backwards and clearly comes directly from the mind of a scientist rather than from the heart of a dog lover. An editor's touch in sequencing would have made this book perfect.

Let me explain what I mean by that. The whole first part of the book is an explanation of means and methods. It is a dry read and yet it's information you would want to know, if the findings section of the book left you curious for more.
If you are like me you will skim the first chapters and dig into the later chapters. Then later, once you have finished the actually informative parts of the book, you will go back and read the clinical minutia that led up to it. You will do that because you want to judge the conclusions on the merit of how they were gained. So to sum up that critique, everything that I needed to be here was here. It's only flaw is the presentation. The back of the book should have BEEN the book and the front of the book should have been appendixes, footnotes and back matter explanation.

How many stars should be docked for that? None in my view. I loved this book and am free enough of a thinker to sequence the material for myself.

The bottom line is that every dog lover should read this to affirm the love and respect that they hold for this noble beast...even if you read it out of order.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
FABULOUS book. Gregory Berns got the crazy idea of training his dog to lie still in an MRI machine in the hope it would provide some insight into dogs' thinking. What he found brings scientific proof to something every dog person knows --- that dogs read us, anticipate our behavior, and act on that knowledge. Dogs, in short, have theory of mind. Berns rightly argues that this scientific evidence must change the way we think of and treat dogs.
His book is filled with fairly complex scientific concepts but it is written beautifully and clearly. It is very easy to understand and, like a good adventure novel, pulls readers along with foreshadowing and suspense. I disagree with the reviewer who said the book is written "backwards." I really wanted to know how the idea developed, how the training was done, all the background stuff in the early chapters.
I love that Berns is not an especially savvy dog person, at least at the beginning of the Dog Project, as he calls it. That makes it all the more sweet when he recognizes how hard dogs try to communicate with and understand humans. I have enormous respect for Berns and his team's commitment to ensuring that the dogs were willing, even eager, participants in every step. I especially enjoyed the long discussion of the ethical issues he faced in setting up the research and the insistence of all the human researchers that the dogs would always be free to opt out, at any time.
This book is a testament to what amazing things can be accomplished when humans acknowledge their dogs' abilities, treat them as partners (rather than as property or as slaves) and engage with them in a respectful, positive manner.
This should be required reading for ALL dog lovers. It will be required reading for all of my students at Bergin U, the only place to study the dog-human relationship at the college level.
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48 of 55 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected, but still interesting. September 11, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
"How Dogs Love Us" is Gregory Berns' own story of his pioneering work in mapping the brains of dogs. "Could we really scan a dog's brain to figure out what it was thinking?" Berns asks at the beginning of the book. "Would we find proof that dogs love us?"

The book tells us how Berns, a neuroscientist at Emory University, devised and conducted MRI tests on dogs, beginning with his own beloved pet Callie, whom he calls "SuperFeist." Frankly, from the title and description of the book, I was expecting to read more about the results of the experiments and less on the experiments themselves. Of course it was vital for Berns to describe his scientific method--which methods he used, and which he rejected. It is pleasant to report that Berns' choices always stressed what was most comfortable and least painful to the dogs. But the leadup to the experiments comprises at least half the book, and I have to admit I skipped over a lot of it. Not being a scientist myself, it was much more detail than I wanted.

Nevertheless, Berns comes across as an extremely likable man, particularly when he writes about his wife, his daughters, and the various dogs in his life. Also, the results of his research are both illuminating and gratifying to anyone who loves dogs. "(F)or the first time, we saw direct evidence in the dog-human relationship and social cognition in the canine brain," Berns writes toward the end. He expands on this at the very end: "I believe the right course of action is to assume that dogs (and probably many other kinds of animals) have a level of self-awareness and emotion that bears more in common with humans than we ever anticipated. If that's true, then dogs are certainly our first friends for always."
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars It became boring. Occasional bright spots
It became boring. Occasional bright spots.
Published 25 minutes ago by Gregory Pitsch
5.0 out of 5 stars Claremore Ok
For all dog lovers... ... To care for our dogs with more understanding. The project and book are a beacon of light for humanity and their dog companions. Enlightenment!
Published 2 hours ago by Jan O'Brien
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book. Every dog lover should read this book
Excellent book. Every dog lover should read this book.
Published 3 hours ago by AJ
5.0 out of 5 stars Your dog is watching you!
A must read for any dog lover. The author is a Neuroscientist who is doing a controlled research project on how dogs brains work. Read more
Published 14 hours ago by Aunty Glory
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating read.
Published 18 hours ago by Rays Fan
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Very insightful book.
Published 18 hours ago by SLH
5.0 out of 5 stars The story was also told in such a way that it was a great read, and...
This book was so fascinating to correlate with real science what every pet owner knows to be true. The story was also told in such a way that it was a great read, and very easy to... Read more
Published 20 hours ago by JR
4.0 out of 5 stars Learned that dogs have emotional feelings and really love their...
Very interesting.Learned that dogs have emotional feelings and really love their caretakers.
Published 20 hours ago by Audrey jones
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book for dog lovers.
I really enjoyed this book.
Published 22 hours ago by Barney
4.0 out of 5 stars I would have liked to read more about the authors scientific...
This was more of a dog training book. I would have liked to read more about the authors scientific discoveries than how he trained his dog to go inside the MRI machine.
Published 23 hours ago by S. Castner
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More About the Author

Gregory Berns, M.D., Ph.D., is the Distinguished Professor of Neuroeconomics at Emory University. His research has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, the Los Angeles Times, Nature, Money, New Scientist, Psychology Today, and on CNN, NPR, ABC, and the BBC. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

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