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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommend
Quoted from the publisher review on Amazon: "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?"

This is primarily why i read this book. I have five dogs. I know a lot about them as individuals just from living...
Published 12 months ago by Nancy Keranen

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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting conclusions, odd mix
I quite enjoyed this book, and strongly agree with the conclusions.

But there is not very much science in here. Most of the chapters are a straightforward account of the development of an MRI experiment, with various personal family episodes thrown in. So for example we learn a lot about the science grades of the author's daughter at school, and how he...
Published 12 months ago by M. D. Holley


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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommend, 8 Dec 2013
By 
Nancy Keranen (Puebla, Puebla Mexico) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: How Dogs Love Us: A Neuroscientist and His Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain (Kindle Edition)
Quoted from the publisher review on Amazon: "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?"

This is primarily why i read this book. I have five dogs. I know a lot about them as individuals just from living closely with them, but I've always wondered about the extent of their cognition ... do they even see me as someone other than a food dispenser who they need to be nice to. Berns' book is based on his carefully constructed study from the beginning to the results and conclusions ... and convinced me of some very interesting features of dogs and their ability to think.

On top of the fascinating study and results, Berns is a great writer and researcher and he loves his dogs! ... which you can see does not bias his results or interpretations because of the very careful writing ... which is also a very good example of how ethical and responsible research should be carried out.

There were instances, and quite a few, where i wondered about the relevance of some of the topics, but as i read on the relevance became clear. The discourse is carefully constructed creating a complete picture of the context of the research and making it a much more enjoyable text to read than it otherwise would have been as a research report.

His description of the procedure needed to carry out the research and the training of the dogs was fascinating and at the same time raises difficult questions about traditional research methods which use animals as data sources. Among all the other things his study shows, it also shows that ethical research can be carried out if we care enough to ensure the animals are treated with as much respect as we would treat human participants.

There are many many implications from the study reported in this book ... not to mention the results from the actual study, which are fascinating.

I highly recommend it!
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting conclusions, odd mix, 1 Dec 2013
By 
M. D. Holley (Kent, UK) - See all my reviews
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I quite enjoyed this book, and strongly agree with the conclusions.

But there is not very much science in here. Most of the chapters are a straightforward account of the development of an MRI experiment, with various personal family episodes thrown in. So for example we learn a lot about the science grades of the author's daughter at school, and how he coaxed her to work harder. The illness of one of the family's dogs (not involved in the experiment at all) gets an entire chapter. There is one odd episode where one of the dogs runs off during a picnic and they think he is lost - this doesn't really fit into the subject matter at all.

I think many British readers will find the tone rather mawkish for their taste. There is nothing wrong with being very sentimental, but we are not used to it(!), and especially not in a book like this.

The analysis of the experimental evidence towards the end is very interesting, and the author is probably forward looking in his outlook.

I would give it 3.5, if such a rating were available.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good points and bad, 24 Aug 2014
By 
Henry Ireton (Cambridge) - See all my reviews
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I enjoyed this book- there are some really interesting points: and there are some less interesting parts.

Berns is really interesting on what dogs are actually thinking. He's done work around how dogs respond to different stimuli by looking at their brains under an MRI scanner and the science he discusses in this book is rivetting, you want to know more. For example he discusses whether dogs have mirror neurons and have the same capacity to understand the point of view of others especially humans as we do. In that sense, are they themselves persons?

However alongside that there is a sentimental story about his family and his dogs that at times is charming but at times feels a little too sentimental, a little too familiar- like someone taking you through their family albums, fascinating to them but not so much to the rest of the world!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book on an important research project, 9 Jan 2014
Being a (human) cognitive neuroscientist and dog lover myself, I loved this book. It was a fun and easy read which was mostly about the process of getting the dogs in the MRI scanner, with (unfortunately) only a limited amount such scientific background information. However, reading about the process of training the dogs was really entertaining and it provides readers with a very realistic image about the process of MRI scanning. The Dog Project is visionary and important and I can't wait for more publications from this group.
The only drawback is that right at the end, the author lost me. He argues that dogs have theory of mind, but his argumentation behind this was unconvincing and based on a questionable reverse inference (activity in a certain brain area). I think it is an interesting idea that dogs have cross-species theory of mind, but the conclusion on this was just too strong (for now, who knows what further research will tell us!). Otherwise, great book!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating read, 11 May 2014
This review is from: How Dogs Love Us: A Neuroscientist and His Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain (Kindle Edition)
I borrowed this book from Amazon because it intrigued me and I wasn't disappointed. The conversational style, explanations and photographs all helped to inform and keep the story moving. Having some personal background knowledge of neuroanatomy was helpful but not, in my opinion, essential, as there was plenty of description to aid the reader's understanding.
It is easy to dismiss the focus on dogs but dog lovers (and patently, not all dog owners are dog lovers) know there's an affinity which develops between them and their pets which is hard to describe. We know the dog understands things which haven't been verbally expressed, like our sadness, our various other moods, and how much they watch us. It was good to have confirmation of the synergy between man and dog.
The benefits to treatment of various human conditions are becoming more well known and understood, therefore the value of such exploration as that undertaken in this study will increase over time.
A well written, informative, interesting read and, for this dog lover, really enjoyable!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great science, 22 July 2014
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This review is from: How Dogs Love Us: A Neuroscientist and His Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain (Kindle Edition)
I'm a retired community paediatrician/psychiatrist so I just love the scientific proof of what we know instinctively. Our dogs love us, unconditionally, trustingly, and much more than we deserve.
The success of Gregory Berns in ethically, scientifically demonstrating the first neuroscientifically valid evidence that our dogs are not wolves in sheep's clothing - pace Cesar Millan - is just the beginning of clarifying the complex symbiotic relationship we have with our dogs.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 18 Jan 2014
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This review is from: How Dogs Love Us: A Neuroscientist and His Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain (Kindle Edition)
To be honest I was expecting this book to deliver a little more, or in fact a lot more. There is very little scientific evidence presented in this book and the actual results from the MRI sessions are scant. At no point is there any scientific decoding of the dogs brain and the whole book reads more like a diary.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good read, 15 Jan 2014
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This review is from: How Dogs Love Us: A Neuroscientist and His Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain (Kindle Edition)
What a lovely man Gregory Berns is! His love for dogs can clearly be seen in this book & when he writes, he gives of himself. You would expect a Neuroscientist to write a stuffy book but a layman like myself can follow with no problem. This is a good start into dog research via scanning but with the best will in the world it tells us little more than we have already guessed. It confirms rather than adds to anything, but I feel his work is just beginning & we will probably be hearing an awful lot more from him in the future, & who knows, if Helen takes to the Sciences maybe also from her!
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read book, 2 Feb 2014
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This review is from: How Dogs Love Us: A Neuroscientist and His Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain (Kindle Edition)
I am a dog lover. I own 2 rescued Yorkshire Terriers. I wanted to know how best to communicate with my dogs, beyond "I am the master, you are the dog" Before reading this book, I was convinced I saw gratitude and love in their eyes, but dismissed this as fanciful. Now, I know, I was right.
Now, I know for a scientific fact, they have a sense of belonging, beyond the fact I provide food and shelter. I am also more than ever against animal testing involving painful procedures like chemicals, given that dogs have such a high social awareness involving humans.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Self-indulgent and long-winded, 28 Jan 2014
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This review is from: How Dogs Love Us: A Neuroscientist and His Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain (Kindle Edition)
Downloaded this on my Kindle in a weak moment not long after losing my own dog and thought it might provide some genuinely interesting insights into the workings of a dog's mind. It didn't. Basically, it is a long-winded account of a series of self-indulgent experiments to map the brains of dogs using MRI scanning techniques. Long chapters are devoted to the background, character, prejudices and pre-suppositions of the scientific team and the traits of the various dogs involved in the experiment. It takes until about 2/3 through this incredibly tedious book before the dogs learn to sit still long enough in the scanners for any images to be produced at all and then the book sort of meanders to a close with a few sentimental accounts of the last days of the poor, half-microwaved and much-loved pooches in the story. In terms of revealing anything very new or interesting about 'how dogs love us', I can only imagine that we'll have to wait for Volume 2. Throughout the book, the author meanders through accounts of his 'sacred values' experiments and other theories of life, the universe and everything; stating rather smugly that the dog experiments began as 'an idea in search of a question'. That about summed it up for me. Perhaps even more tedious than the doggie bits are the lengthy accounts of darling daughter Helen trying to learn science at school. It was like being let in on a particularly uncomfortable parent-teacher session in which the smugly superior 'proper' scientist Father lectures the poor, long suffering teacher (ignorant serf) on the proper way to teach science to his exceptionally bright daughter. Oh and I nearly forgot to mention the interminable chapter on legal wrangles over having dogs on the university campus... forgive me if I skim read that one! Perhaps I'm being a bit harsh; there are some semi-interesting ideas towards the end that dogs have a 'theory of mind' based on interpreting hand signals and in some way dogs can 'mentalize' by transforming human actions into doggie equivalents but all that was based on was seeing some motor cortex action in response to hand signals about hot dogs. Sadly, a chapter that offered some tantalising insights then rather predictably drifted off into sentimental musings about doggie 'love' based on the sight of a content, well-fed dog dreaming of chasing rabbits (possibly). In the end, this book wont tell you much you don't already know if you are dog owner and actually it didn't seem all that scientific even though there was an attempt to use scientific instruments to measure brain responses. Most of it was mere speculation, conjecture and the application of other dubious theories of canine and human development . I don't think I'll bother with the sequel.
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