I was just thinking about the fact that another MRI is in my near future, as my annual checkup with my neurologist is drawing near. I don’t mind MRIs at all. Before I ever had one, I feared I’d find it claustrophobic. But my yoga practice has taught me how to calm my mind and my breathing, enabling me practically to fall asleep when I’m in that tube.
Of course, not everyone is as comfortable getting MRIs as I am. Many freak out over being so tightly encased in the tube, and some have trouble staying still during the long and noisy scanning period.
Open MRIs are a good option for many of those people. But perhaps some might find it inspiring to read about this incredible study regarding dogs’ ability to read human emotions.
As NPR reports, researchers at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology in Budapest wanted to figure out why dogs are so closely attuned to the sound and nuances of people’s voices. To that end, the scientists planned to conduct brain MRIs on 11 dogs as they listened to various sounds via headphones. Though some smaller experiments had successfully captured such images of dogs’ brains, this team of researchers worried about whether the greater number of dogs in their experiment would make it harder to get the dogs to cooperate.
The scientists used treats to encourage and reward good behavior. But one of the most powerful techniques for getting the dogs to lie still turned out to be the good example set by another dog.
Among the dogs whose brains were to be scanned were some who were experienced at getting MRIs. So the scientists placed one of those dogs on the MRI bed, with other dogs watching. When the dogs observed the model dog’s calm and happy behavior, they apparently couldn’t wait to get on that MRI bed themselves!
After a lot of pre-scan training and heaps of praise for the pooches, the researchers were able to capture images of all the dogs’ brains. That information they gathered allowed them to pinpoint areas in a dog’s brain dedicated to processing the voices of humans and other dogs.
When it comes time for my MRI, I plan to lie in the tube thinking about those dogs and the stellar example they set for us all. If they can lie perfectly still despite all that commotion, then, doggonit, so can I!