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What It’s Like to Be a Dog

And Other Adventures in Animal Neuroscience

Gregory Berns

What does your dog really think about you?

To find out, Gregory Berns became the first neuroscientist to persuade dogs to lie in an MRI machine wide awake. Now we know more about our best friends than ever before – how varying capacities for self-control and different value systems set them apart as individuals, and how deeply they understand the words we speak to them. Berns’ discoveries have profound implications for how we communicate with and treat these beloved animals.

But he didn’t stop there. Berns also delves into the inner lives of sea lions, bats, dolphins, and even the extinct Tasmanian tiger. His revolutionary explorations are essential reading for animal lovers of all stripes.

  • Publication date: February 7, 2019
  • ISBN: 9781786074898
  • RRP: £9.99
  • Pages: 320
  • Publication date: April 12, 2018
  • ISBN: 9781786073617
  • RRP: £16.99
  • Pages: 320
  • Publication date: April 12, 2018
  • ISBN: 9781786073624
  • RRP: £5.99
  • Pages: 304


‘A fascinating overview of a fledgling field, which could lead to seismic shifts in the ways animals are treated.’

Mail on Sunday

‘Groundbreaking research that shows that dog emotions are similar to people’s… Dog lovers and neuroscientists should both read this important book.’

Temple Grandin, author of Animals in Translation and Animals Make us Human

‘An informed and humane exploration at the frontiers of animal sentience.’

The Times

‘Berns…is boldly going where no one has gone before, offering a lively, eye-opening peek into his neuroscience kitchen.’

Frans de Waal, author of Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?

‘Berns has done it again; woven a compelling story with a scientific revolution. From building an MRI simulator in his living room to tracking down one of the four remaining brains of the extinct Tasmanian tiger, Berns takes us on an incredible journey of exploration and discovery. Marvellously written and intellectually engaging, What It’s Like to Be a Dog will establish Berns as one of the most skilled neuroscientists of our day, as well as someone with the intuition that understanding other animals will lead to greater insight and knowledge about ourselves.’

Dr. Brian Hare, bestselling author of The Genius of Dogs

‘Have you ever wanted to peek inside the mind of a dog? Gregory Berns’ brain scanner does precisely that. But this book also contains many remarkable insights into the inner lives of other animals. Dolphins, sea lions, raccoons, Tasmanian devils – even the long-extinct Tasmanian tiger – they’re all here. A fascinating journey towards an understanding of what dogs – and their mammalian cousins – might be thinking about us.’

John Bradshaw, author of the New York Times bestsellers Dog Sense and Cat Sense

‘Berns mixes personal stories of dogs and dog lovers with elegant scientific experiments that show the surprising complexity behind many canine daily behaviours: a fun, fascinating and illuminating read.’

New Scientist

‘One of the most delightful things about What It’s Like to Be a Dog is the attention Berns pays to each dog’s individual quirks.’

New Yorker

‘Gregory Berns is a remarkable scientist, whose pioneering MRI studies of the brain across a range of species have opened up a pathway to deeper understanding of animals’ internal awareness and perspectives.  He’s also an exceptional thinker, whose grasp of the ethical and practical significance of his findings for the status and treatment of animals is pervasive in this absorbing work.’

Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO, the Humane Society of the United States

‘A fascinating read. Packed with personal stories, What It’s Like to Be a Dog clearly lays out just who these amazing beings are, from the inside out. We can now learn what each individual animal wants and needs to have the best life possible in a human-centred world, and what we must do to make sure they do.’

Marc Bekoff, University of Colorado, author of The Animals’ Agenda and Canine Confidential

‘It’s the rare neuroscientist who has the patience and curiosity to train dogs to hop into an MRI machine, tails wagging. Or delve into the mysteries of the dolphin brain. Or venture to the far side of the globe to find the brain of an extinct, yet still fascinating species: the thylacine. Thankfully, Gregory Berns did all of these things. In this big-hearted book, he applies cutting-edge science to questions that have never been so timely: How do other animals perceive their worlds? How do they experience emotions? How does their language work? What It’s Like to Be a Dog is a delightful, illuminating look at the minds and lives of our fellow creatures.’

Susan Casey, author of Voices in the Ocean

‘The author explains that his purpose in writing this book is “to raise awareness of the mental lives of the animals with whom we share the planet”. In that, he succeeds. An impressive overview of modern neurology and the still-unanswered issues raised by our treatment of our fellow living creatures.’


Gregory Berns

Author page

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