No bad dogs in the scanner: How researchers calmed those MRI canines

Remember the MRI study from Hungary showing that dogs seem to understand not only humans’ tone but also our words? The Washington Post has asked the burning follow-up question a lot of dog lovers have surely been asking:

How the heck did they get awake dogs to lie still in a scanner for eight minutes?

The newspaper specifically asked that of one of the study’s co-authors, Marta Gacsi of Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest. She was generous in her response, which the WaPo has run as an extended, albeit edited, response.

“At the beginning, it seemed logical that we needed highly trained dogs with a calm temperament,” Gacsi says. “None of these hypotheses turned out to be true. There were many trained dogs that turned out to be perfect and some highly trained dogs that failed, because they wanted to do something. They wanted to do their best, but they couldn’t understand that here the task is doing nothing.”

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