The ability of dogs to respond appropriately to various human signals was demonstrated in a study at Emory University.
Using an MRI, researchers were able to measure brain activity of dogs under various circumstances. Dogs were taught to lie motionless in the MRI and were not restrained. They were trained to two hand signals, one indicating they would receive a treat and another indicating they would not. When given the hand signal for a treat, the dog’s brain showed an increase in activity. However, there was no increase in brain activity when given the signal for no treat. Researchers hope to build on this information to determine if dogs have empathy and if they can read their owner’s moods. To read the full study, go to http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0038027