The Boston College Canine Cognition Center maintains a community-centered approach as the foundation of its work. We seek to provide a fun, informative experience for all participants and students. By focusing on our community’s diversity of knowledge and experiences, we produce innovative, creative research of which anyone can be a part.
We were founded in 2019 by primary investigator, Dr. Angie Johnston, and current Ph.D. Candidate, Molly Byrne, with the desire to better understand how humans and dogs think. While doing so, we sought to create a student-focused research space, where BC undergraduates from all backgrounds could learn the hidden curriculum of academia and have the opportunity to produce groundbreaking work. Additionally, we sought to connect with the greater Boston community, making science accessible to people from all walks of life by allowing them to participate directly in our research.
Citizen science is at the center of our mission. You can participate virtually or in-person and contribute to our work! Be a scientist. Join us at the BCCC!
Our primary goal as a lab is to remain on the cutting edge of canine cognition research. Our interest in canine cognition is multifaceted, as we seek to discover all that canine cognition can teach us about
(1) human psychology,
(3) human-dog interaction,
(4) service and working dogs,
and (5) pet dogs.
Our approach is to publish well-thought-out and replicable research that moves the field of canine cognition forward. As we conduct our research, we also seek to engage students and the public in our scientific process as much as possible, with a particular focus on training students to be successful and ethical independent researchers.
It is our priority that every member of our lab, no matter their role, feels safe, comfortable, and happy while they are being productive in the lab environment. We are committed to providing a space that allows for communication in all directions. We strive to constantly improve our lab community by encouraging constructive criticism and comments at any time.
Our work focuses on the evolution of social learning and teaching behaviors in humans. We use dogs as a model species for human behavior because of their shared evolutionary environment with humans.
The BCCC takes a community-centered approach to knowledge production and mentorship. This means producing information that is accessible to our greater community and researchers. We take special care to recruit undergraduate research assistants from diverse experiences. Regardless of their prior research experience, we prepare them for a carrier in the comparative psychological sciences.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why study dog cognition?
Humans and dogs share an environment. Don’t believe us? Well — don’t your neighbors have dogs? Additionally, dogs and humans engage in behavior that’s relatively rare, and that’s sociality. The fact that humans and dogs can co-exist with many other individuals is a special trait that may have evolutionary implications. All of this to say — dogs and humans have a lot in common. We’re interested in understanding the relationship between these commonalities to better understand what dogs can tell us about the evolution of humans.
2. What does your research look like?
Our research involves lots of treats and cognitive games! The games we do are relatively simple, but en-mass give us insight into the ways dogs make decisions.
3. Do I have to pay?
4. I signed -up on SONA. Now what?
Once you complete your pre-screening, you are now eligible to sign up for an in-person appointment.
If you are located in the greater Boston area, the first appointment you sign up for should be the initial visit. After the initial visit, you will receive invitations to participate in future studies for which you’re eligible.
Virtual Studies have a two-step sign-up process, the first being the completion on online consent forms. The consent forms are set up as a study and can be found on the “studies” page in SONA. They are labeled Part 1:”study name.” Then go to Part 2 to sign up for your virtual study slot.
All virtual studies are hosted in the EDT.
5. I have an in-person appointment. What do I do?
Follow the arrival protocol on the “visit” page! Please do not enter the building before calling us and completing pre-screening questions.
6. I have a virtual appointment. What do I do?
Log onto your zoom link at the appointed time. This link will be sent in an automated email.