A window to the dog’s mind: an animal-friendly research method from a finnish group

What goes on in the mind of a dog? This is something dog owners often wonder – and now the researchers are a little closer to finding the answers.

As a first group in the world, a finnish research group has developed a method usable in scientific research, which can be used to monitor dog’s brain electrophysiological activity in a fully animal-friendly manner. Measurements of animal brain electroencephalography (EEG) have been conducted before, but they usually utilize more invasive procedures, such as electrodes implanted within the brain or under the skin. In these cases, animals are sedated and/or their movements have been restricted.

In the new method, the dog’s EEG is measured with sensors attached on the top of the skin. The sensors are the same that are used with EEG measurements of human infants. The dogs are taught with food rewards to stay still during the measurements and to lean their chins to a softened chin rest, but their movements are not restricted. The method has been adapted to the research on dog perceptual world by the researchers Heini Törnqvist, Sanni Somppi and Miiamaaria Kujala with their colleagues in the University of Helsinki, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, in collaboration with the Faculty of Behavioural Sciences and School of Science in Aalto University.