What is it like to be a dog? A bat? Or a dolphin? To find out, neuroscientist Gregory Berns and his team began with a radical step: they taught dogs to go into an MRI scanner – completely awake. They discovered what makes dogs individuals with varying capacities for self-control, different value systems and a complex understanding of human speech. And dogs were just the beginning.
In What It's Like to Be a Dog, Berns explores the fascinating inner lives of wild animals from dolphins and sea lions to the extinct Tasmanian tiger. This new way of understanding animals will revolutionize how we communicate and treat our furry, and not-so-furry, friends. Groundbreaking and deeply humane, this is essential reading for animal lovers of all stripes.
Gregory Berns is a distinguished professor of neuroeconomics at Emory University, where he directs the Center for Neuropolicy and Facility for Education and Research in Neuroscience. He is the author of several books, including the New York Times bestseller How Dogs Love Us. He lives in Atlanta.
"An informed and humane exploration at the frontiers of animal sentience."
"A fascinating overview of a fledgling field, which could lead to seismic shifts in the ways animals are treated."
– Mail on Sunday
"Groundbreaking research that shows that dog emotions are similar to people's [...] Dog lovers and neuroscientists should both read this important book."
– Temple Grandin, author of Animals in Translation and Animals Make us Human
"Berns [...] is boldly going where no one has gone before, offering a lively, eye-opening peek into his neuroscience kitchen."
– Frans de Waal, author of Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?
"Berns has done it again; woven a compelling story with a scientific revolution. From building an MRI simulator in his living room to tracking down one of the four remaining brains of the extinct Tasmanian tiger, Berns takes us on an incredible journey of exploration and discovery. Marvellously written and intellectually engaging, What It's Like to Be a Dog will establish Berns as one of the most skilled neuroscientists of our day, as well as someone with the intuition that understanding other animals will lead to greater insight and knowledge about ourselves."
– Dr. Brian Hare, bestselling author of The Genius of Dogs
"Have you ever wanted to peek inside the mind of a dog? Gregory Berns' brain scanner does precisely that. But this book also contains many remarkable insights into the inner lives of other animals. Dolphins, sea lions, raccoons, Tasmanian devils – even the long-extinct Tasmanian tiger – they're all here. A fascinating journey towards an understanding of what dogs – and their mammalian cousins – might be thinking about us."
– John Bradshaw, author of the New York Times bestsellers Dog Sense and Cat Sense
"Berns mixes personal stories of dogs and dog lovers with elegant scientific experiments that show the surprising complexity behind many canine daily behaviours: a fun, fascinating and illuminating read."
– New Scientist
"One of the most delightful things about What It's Like to Be a Dog is the attention Berns pays to each dog's individual quirks."
– New Yorker
"Gregory Berns is a remarkable scientist, whose pioneering MRI studies of the brain across a range of species have opened up a pathway to deeper understanding of animals' internal awareness and perspectives. He's also an exceptional thinker, whose grasp of the ethical and practical significance of his findings for the status and treatment of animals is pervasive in this absorbing work."
– Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO, the Humane Society of the United States
"A fascinating read. Packed with personal stories, What It's Like to Be a Dog clearly lays out just who these amazing beings are, from the inside out. We can now learn what each individual animal wants and needs to have the best life possible in a human-centred world, and what we must do to make sure they do."
– Marc Bekoff, University of Colorado, author of The Animals' Agenda and Canine Confidential
"It's the rare neuroscientist who has the patience and curiosity to train dogs to hop into an MRI machine, tails wagging. Or delve into the mysteries of the dolphin brain. Or venture to the far side of the globe to find the brain of an extinct, yet still fascinating species: the thylacine. Thankfully, Gregory Berns did all of these things. In this big-hearted book, he applies cutting-edge science to questions that have never been so timely: How do other animals perceive their worlds? How do they experience emotions? How does their language work? What It's Like to Be a Dog is a delightful, illuminating look at the minds and lives of our fellow creatures."
– Susan Casey, author of Voices in the Ocean
"The author explains that his purpose in writing this book is "to raise awareness of the mental lives of the animals with whom we share the planet". In that, he succeeds. An impressive overview of modern neurology and the still-unanswered issues raised by our treatment of our fellow living creatures."