Neurobehavioral evidence for individual differences in canine cognitive control: an awake fMRI study
- First Online:
- Cite this article as:
- Cook, P.F., Spivak, M. & Berns, G. Anim Cogn (2016) 19: 867. doi:10.1007/s10071-016-0983-4
- 475 Downloads
Based on behavioral evidence, the domestic dog has emerged as a promising comparative model of human self-control. However, while research on human inhibition has probed heterogeneity and neuropathology through an integration of neural and behavioral evidence, there are no parallel data exploring the brain mechanisms involved in canine inhibition. Here, using a combination of cognitive testing and awake neuroimaging in domestic dogs, we provide evidence precisely localizing frontal brain regions underpinning response inhibition in this species and demonstrate the dynamic relationship between these regions and behavioral measures of control. Thirteen dogs took part in an in-scanner go/no-go task and an out-of-scanner A-not-B test. A frontal brain region was identified showing elevated neural activity for all subjects during successful inhibition in the scanner, and dogs showing greater mean brain activation in this region produced fewer false alarms. Better performance in the go/no-go task was also correlated with fewer errors in the out-of-scanner A-not-B test, suggesting that dogs show consistent neurobehavioral individual differences in cognitive control, as is seen in humans. These findings help establish parity between human and canine mechanisms of self-control and pave the way for future comparative studies examining their function and dysfunction.