As any dedicated dog owner will tell you, canines often appear to grasp the emotional content of what's being said to them. An unprecedented brain scanning study now shows this is likely true — and that this capability pre-dates domestication.
This is not the first time dogs have been studied in an MRI scanner. Last year, neuroeconomics professor Gregory Burns analyzed the canine caudate nucleus — a key brain region shared by humans and dogs, and one that's associated with the anticipation of things we enjoy, like food, love, and material things. Burns's scans led him to conclude that dogs are as conscious as human children.