Brain scans of service-dog trainees help sort weaker recruits from the pack

By Carol Clark | eScienceCommons | March 9, 2017

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Some of the service dog trainees that were involved in the study pose with an fMRI scanner. (Photo by Gregory Berns.)

Brain scans of canine candidates to assist people with disabilities can help predict which dogs will fail a rigorous service training program, a study by Emory University finds.

The journal Scientific Reports published the results of the study, involving 43 dogs who underwent service training at Canine Companions for Independence (CCI) in Santa Rosa, California.

“Data from functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) provided a modest, but significant, improvement in the ability to identify dogs that were poor candidates,” says Emory neuroscientist Gregory Berns, who led the research. “What the brain imaging tells us is not just which dogs are more likely to fail, but why.”

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