Animal Welfare

The Brain Ark


What is it like to be a bat? A dolphin? A Tasmanian devil? For centuries, philosophers and scientists have dismissed these questions as unanswerable. After all, humans can't fly like a bat or swim and echolocate like a dolphin, or smell the world like a dog. The experiences of other animals have seemed to be walled off from humans.


With technological advances in MRI, we are studying the brains of animals like dolphins and mapping how their brains process sound. We have also studied seals and sea lions and how ecotoxins are damaging their brains. We are also reconstructing the brains and minds of extinct animals like the mysterious Tasmanian tiger and its closest living relative, the Tasmanian devil.



  • Berns G: Dogs are people, too. New York Times, Oct. 7, 2013. Link.
  • Berns G: Five signs your dog loves you. Wall Street Journal, Dec. 4, 2013. Link.
  • Berns G: Loving a hard to love dog. The Dodo, Jan. 12, 2014. Link.
  • Berns GS, Cook PF, Foxley S, Jbabdi S, Miller KL, Marino L: Diffusion tensor imaging of dolphin brains reveals direct auditory pathway to temporal lobe. Proc. R. Soc. B 282:20151203, 2015. Link.
  • Berns GS & Ashwell KWS: Reconstruction of the cortical maps of the Tasmanian tiger and comparison to the Tasmanian devil. PLoS ONE 12(1): e0168993, 2017. Link.

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