Our Research Trip To California- The Work Stuff

Our Research Trip To California- The Work Stuff

Over the past 1.5 years, CPT Head Trainer and Dog Star Technologies co-founder Mark Spivak has traveled to California bi-monthly to complete a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) contracted canine neuroimaging project that uses fMRI biomarkers to better identify high-potential service dog candidates.  The project incorporates leading-edge science to improve dog training technology.

Mark and the team work hard during their business trips.  The research team is comprised of multiple top caliber organizations and people, who work diligently to ensure that the project moves forward during preparatory periods, on fMRI scan days, and during post-scan data analysis.

The project is a collaboration between Dog Star Technologies, the primary contractor; DARPA, the contracting agency; and the following subcontractors: Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), who prepares a set number of candidate service dogs per Dog Star’s MRI training specifications; Georgia Tech University’s Animal-Computer Interaction Laboratory, who designs activity sensors that help to determine the suitability of the candidate dogs; Emory University, who provides local MRI facilities that Dog Star uses to perfect its protocols; and the University of California, Berkeley, who provides research MRI facilities so that the team can conveniently scan CCI’s Northwest Region dogs housed in Santa Rosa, CA.

Every facet of the team is important to ensure the ultimate success of the project.  To better visually illustrate the collaborative aspect of the research, we have divided the following photos into separate categories:  1) The scans, 2) The dogs, 3) CCI, and 4) The people.

We hope you enjoy the photos:

An fMRI image of Gelsey.

An fMRI image of Neon.
An fMRI image of Neon.

An fMRI image of Olney.

A view into the MRI room from the control room.

CCI Training Manager Erin Rich and CCI Director of Research Kerinne Levy apply ear plugs and Vet Wrap prior to a scan. MRI scanners can operate with volumes between 90 to 135 dB. Our frequencies operate at 95 decibels. Nevertheless conditioning each dog to wear hearing protection is essential for the dog’s comfort during a live scan and to minimize the risk of associated hearing damage.

CCI Training Manager Erin Rich applying ear plugs and overwrap prior to a scan.

CCI Director of Research Kerinne Levy monitoring during a live scan.

CCI Training Manager Erin Rich communicating hand signals to one of the dogs during a live fMRI scan. The dog's caudate and limbic responses to the signals is imperative to determining his potential as a future service dog.
CCI Training Manager Erin Rich communicating hand signals to one of the dogs during a live fMRI scan. The dog’s caudate and limbic responses to the signals is imperative to determining his potential as a future service dog.
CCI Training Supervisor Erin Rich observing as we condition one of the dogs prior to a live scan.
CCI Training Supervisor Erin Rich observing as we condition one of the dogs prior to a live scan.
CCI candidate service dogs posing at the completion of a scan day. UC Berkeley has an outstanding research MRI facility and they have been wonderfully accommodating to every person and dog.
CCI candidate service dogs posing at the completion of a scan day. UC Berkeley has an outstanding research MRI facility and they have been wonderfully accommodating to every person and dog.
The dogs posing at the end of a scan day.
The dogs posing proudly at the completion of a scan day.
The dogs posing proudly at the completion of a scan day.
The dogs posing at the end of a scan day
At the end of a scanning day the dogs posing with CCI Assistant Trainers Shelley Lampman and Amy Kinsella.
At the end of a scan day the dogs posing with CCI Assistant Trainers Shelley Lampman and Amy Kinsella.
The Li Ka Shing Center for Biomedical and Health Sciences on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley. We scan the dogs with the research scanner within the Li Ka Shing Building.
The Li Ka Shing Center for Biomedical and Health Sciences on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley. We scan the dogs with the research scanner within the Li Ka Shing Building.
Arriving at CCI's headquarters location and Northwest Region Training Center in Santa Rosa, CA.
Arriving at CCI’s headquarters location and Northwest Region Training Center in Santa Rosa, CA.
Entering the administrative complex at CCI's headquarters location in Santa Rosa, CA during the start of our tour.
Entering the administrative complex at CCI’s headquarters location in Santa Rosa, CA during the start of our tour.
CCI's National Graduate Map. CCI is the nation's largest and most respected nonprofit service dog organization. They have existed for 40 years and now graduate approximately 270 service dogs per year.
CCI’s National Graduate Map. CCI is the nation’s largest and most respected nonprofit service dog organization. They have existed for 40 years and now graduate approximately 270 service dogs per year.
DARPA Program Coordinator Emily Caporello, PhD, CCI Director of Research Kerinne Levy, DARPA Consultant Pae Wu, PhD, CCI Assistant Trainer Maria Bruno, and an unidentified CCI Assistant Trainer place multiple service dog candidates in a group down-stay at CCI's Northwest Region Training Center and headquarters location in Santa Rosa, CA.
DARPA Program Coordinator Emily Caporello, PhD, CCI Director of Research Kerinne Levy, DARPA Consultant Pae Wu, PhD, CCI Assistant Trainer Maria Bruno, and an unidentified CCI Assistant Trainer place multiple service dog candidates in a group down-stay at CCI’s Northwest Region Training Center and headquarters location in Santa Rosa, CA.
DARPA Program Coordinator Emily Caporello, CCI Driector of Research Kerinne Levy, DARPA Consultant Pae Wu, CCI Assistant Trainer Maria Bruno, and an unidentified Assistant Trainer release the dogs from a down-stay.
DARPA Program Coordinator Emily Caporello, CCI Director of Research Kerinne Levy, DARPA Consultant Pae Wu, CCI Assistant Trainer Maria Bruno, and an unidentified Assistant Trainer release the dogs from a down-stay.
CCI Director of Research Kerinne Levy, Dog Star Chief Operating Officer Mark Spivak, DARPA Program Coordinator Emily Caporello, and DARPA Consultant Pae Wu posing during a tour of CCI's Santa Rosa, CA headquarters and Northwest Region Training Center.
CCI Director of Research Kerinne Levy, Dog Star Chief Operating Officer Mark Spivak, DARPA Program Coordinator Emily Caporello, and DARPA Consultant Pae Wu posing during a tour of CCI’s Santa Rosa, CA headquarters and Northwest Region Training Center.
DARPA Program Manager Doug Weber, PhD, and CCI Assistant Trainers Shelley Lampman and Amy Kinsella.
DARPA Program Manager Doug Weber, PhD, and CCI Assistant Trainers Shelley Lampman and Amy Kinsella.
Megan Pearl and GA Tech Researcher Ceara Byrne inside the MRI Control Room.
Megan Pearl and GA Tech Researcher Ceara Byrne inside the MRI Control Room.
GA Tech Researcher Ceara Byrne, Megan Pearl, CCI Training Manager Erin Rich, GA Tech Researcher Larry Friel, and CCI Director of Research Kerinne Levy posing with 5 scanned CCI dogs on Oxford Street in Berkeley.
Megan Pearl and GA Tech Researcher Ceara Byrne inside the MRI Control Room.
Greg Berns, MD, PhD, Dog Star Technologies co-founder and Chief Scientist.
Greg Berns, MD, PhD, Dog Star Technologies co-founder and Chief Scientist.
Andrew Brooks, Dog Star Technologies Project Scientist. Andrew time codes the experiment during scan day, programs the software, and analyzes the data.
Andrew Brooks, PhD, Dog Star Technologies Project Scientist. Andrew time codes the experiment during scan day, programs the software, and analyzes the data.
Ben Inglis, PhD, the Head Physicist and Manager at UC Berkeley's Henry K. Wheeler Brain Imaging Center.
Ben Inglis, PhD, the Head Physicist and Manager at UC Berkeley’s Henry K. Wheeler Brain Imaging Center.
Rick Redfern, the Research and Development Engineer at UC Berkeley's Henry K. Wheeler Brain Imaging Center.
Rick Redfern, the Research and Development Engineer at UC Berkeley’s Henry K. Wheeler Brain Imaging Center.
CCI Assistant Trainer Maria Bruno posing by the door of the scanner control room.
CCI Assistant Trainer Maria Bruno posing by the door of the scanner control room.

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