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What It’s Like To Be a Dog

Evening Program with Book Signing

Inside Science program

Thursday, November 30, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Code: 1L0178

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Please be advised that there will be street closures around the National Mall in anticipation of the National Christmas Tree Lighting. Information on street closures can be found here.

Though we may think we know what our pets are thinking, what if we could actually know what was going on in their brains? It’s possible, according to neuroscientist Greg Berns. In his new book, What’s It Like To Be a Dog And Other Adventures in Animal Neuroscience (Basic Books), Berns finds out what our dogs are really thinking. In order to do so, Berns and his team did something radical—they trained dogs to go into an MRI scanner. While the dogs remained completely awake, they were able to study the dogs’ cognitive functions.

But dogs were just the beginning. Berns takes us into the brains and minds of wild animals such as sea lions who can learn to dance, and dolphins who can see with sound.  In an experiment in neuroarchaeology, he reconstructs the brain of one of the most mysterious animals in recent history, the Tasmanian tiger, to explain why it disappeared.

Berns’s latest scientific breakthroughs show how similar animal brains are to those of humans and make clear that we can understand what it’s like to be a dog—or a dolphin. He shows that complex intelligence is all around us and proves definitively that animals have feelings very much like we do—a revelation that might make us reconsider what animal rights ought to be.

Copies of What It’s Like To Be a Dog are available for purchase and signing.

Inside Science

This program is presented in advance of the Smithsonian American Ingenuity Awards on November 29.

Smithsonian Ingenuity Awards


National Museum of American History
Warner Bros. Theater
Constitution Ave NW b/w 12th & 14th Sts
Metro: Federal Triangle or Smithsonian