Episode 18 – Dr. Erin Hecht – Breed Differences in Dog Brains

In this episode, I will be talking to Dr. Erin Hecht about the brains of our best friends! Dr. Hecht received her bachelor of science degree in cognitive science from the University of California, San Diego in 2006, and her PhD in neuroscience from Emory University in 2013. Before moving to Harvard, she was a research scientist at the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience at Georgia State University and an affiliated scientist at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory University.

Dr. Hecht joined the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University in January of 2019. Her lab studies brain behavior, evolution, and dogs, primates, and humans. And she has two miniature Australian shepherds, Lefty and Izzy, who are mostly good. 

In this episode, we cover recent studies indicating that different breeds have slightly different brain structures. This discovery opens up a whole new avenue for understanding what traits might have been selected for in breeding – each breed may have unique cognitive strengths and weaknesses. We also discuss how to interpret genetic studies, and the relationship between dog size, brain size, and behavior.

Finally – and excitingly – we discuss ongoing studies in which you can participate! You can find more information on these studies – and sign up to participate – at caninebrains.org. You can get more information on Dr. Hecht and her work here.  And, of course, if you’d like to geek out about dog behavior even more, jump into the navigation on my site here to explore!

Join the podcast to listen in on our conversation!

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Kristina Spaulding

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About Science Matters

The Science Matters blog provides practical science-based information on dog training and behavior in addition to personal, heartfelt stories about loving and living with dogs.   For a more detailed summary, take a look at the first blog post here.

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