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How Dogs Love Us: A Neuroscientist and His Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain Kindle Edition
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|Length: 272 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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!
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.
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!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
At first glance this book was an odd subject to write about. But as I read on I became more and more interested in learning about how the dogs responded to what Gregory Burns asked... Read morePublished 8 months ago by FirstLord
Not great. As a person who has studied the psychology of dogs for quite a few years I expected more. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Alfie
Very interesting book. Has taught me a lot about dogs. Fast delivery.Published 13 months ago by Miss D THOROGOOD