Proving that your dog loves you is like proving that your dog loves eating garbage: it’s kind of a no-brainer. Nevertheless, scientists at Emory University have set out to find quantitative evidence that man’s best friend is, in fact, man’s best friend.
12 dogs were trained to sit still in an MRI scanner, which must have been no easy feat in and of itself. When the pups learned to associate certain hand signals with treats, scientists observed the resultant excitement in each animal’s caudate nucleus, the section of the brain most closely linked to happiness and affection in humans. (We imagine the experimental procedure went something like this.) Next, researchers hope to compare the dogs’ reactions to snacks offered by people and by machines. If interspecies interaction stimulates more positive neuronal activity than plain old food, that could be the best proof of puppy love yet.
While you’re at it, Science, I have some questions I’d like you to pass on to my dog, Gracie.
- Do you really enjoy belly scratches or are you just humoring me?
- How do you poop so much? (See also: pee, fart.)
- Do you like my new boots or do you think they’re too shiny? You think they’re too shiny, right?
- Why do you eat pencils if they reliably make you puke? Why do you then proceed to eat your pencil puke?
No official word yet on whether your cat loves you, but honestly, it’s not looking good.