Peter Cook, Ashley Prichard, Mark Spivak, and Gregory S. Berns, Jealousy in dogs? Evidence from brain imaging


It is gratifying and significant that so many scientists from diverse fields are arguing in-depth regarding a particularly complex set of social emotions in a non-human animal. Emotions play a fundamental role in decision making and information processing. Neuroimaging is important in understanding the cognitive and emotional worlds of non-human animals and can help measure covert emotions lacking clear behavioral correlates. Various experimental approaches could clarify the relative importance of attachment and aggression in jealousy and whether the phenomenon we measured is more akin to human envy or jealousy. Reverse inference from amygdala activation is probably justified because behavior is “degenerate”: there are fewer behavioral programs than brain states that give rise to them. Individual differences are also important.

Author Biography

Peter Cook is Assistant Professor of Psychology at the New College of Florida. He studies animal cognition and comparative neuroscience in a wide range of species. He is particularly interested in finding novel, ecologically valid approaches to studying the brain and behavior outside the traditional laboratory setting. Website

Gregory S. Berns, Distinguished Professor in Psychology, Emory University, directs the Facility for Education & Research in Neuroscience. His research uses fMRI to study canine cognitive function in awake, unrestrained dogs to map their brains’ perceptual and decision systems non-invasively. He also uses diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to reconstruct the white matter pathways of a wide variety of other mammals, including dolphins, coyotes, and the extinct Tasmanian tiger. Website