MRI Practice: Truffles Practicing for the “Danny Faces” fMRI Experiment

MRI Practice:  Truffles Practicing for the “Danny Faces” fMRI Experiment

This video shows Truffles, owned by Diana Delatour, practicing for the upcoming “Danny-Faces” Experiment. To prepare for a live fMRI scan Truffles must first practice on the floor at home. Then, Truffles will complete a real life dress-rehearsal in the CPT MRI simulator. Once graduating from the dress rehearsal, Truffles will participate in a live fMRI scan at Emory University, which Truffles will complete cooperatively without sedation or restraints.

To succeed in the “Danny-Faces” live scan, Truffles must climb steps, traverse a narrow walkway, place her head in a chin rest attached within an MRI receiver coil, and then amidst 96 dB noise and vibrations remain stationary (no movement greater than 2 mm within any spatial plane) while remaining attentive to a television screen and while out of sight of her owner. The Danny-Faces experiment is designed to identify the fusiform face area (FFA) in dogs. The FFA, which in humans is located in the fusiform gyrus in the ventral surface of the temporal lobe, is responsible for recognizing faces.

The FFA is highly relevant to interpersonal communication. People with damage to the FFA will suffer from a condition called prosopagnosia (face blindness), where the affected person will see faces, but cognitively lack the ability to recognize the faces.

The existence of an FFA has never been identified in dogs. Yet, dogs use facial countenance as an important component of dog-dog and dog-human communication. Moreover, dogs are social pack animals, where identification of faces may be highly relevant to discriminate pack members from interlopers. During the experiment, Truffles and other participating animals will view still and motion pictures of facial and non-facial images so that the CPT-Emory Dog Project team can identify whether dogs possess an FFA. In the future, knowledge of a canine FFA and its operation and activation may lead to improved human-dog communication methodologies and improved pet and working dog training methodologies.

CPT wishes to be known as Atlanta’s and the nation’s leader in effectively applying practical dog training and behavior modification techniques. Yet, CPT also wishes to constantly improve so that CPT remains at the forefront of canine behavioral science and application. Therefore, CPT believes wholeheartedly in the value of the Emory-CPT Dog Project and the knowledge the project obtains about canine cognition, emotions, sensory reception, receptive communication, and inhibitory control, as the Project may be highly influential in establishing the next generation of dog training and behavior modification protocols.

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