Brianna L Artz

Brianna L Artz

Brianna L Artz

Graduate Teaching Assistant

Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience: Canine cognition & behavior and human-animal interactions

Brianna is a 4th year PhD student in the Animal Behavior & Cognition lab in the department of Psychology. Her interests include better understanding how evolution through artificial selection has influenced the cognition and behavior of the domestic dog - Canis familiaris. Her current research focuses on understanding how breed and life experience influence social cognition in dogs. Specifically, how working vs companion roles influence the social cognition of hound dogs. Her research also seeks to validate commonly used methods in canine cognition research (e.g. the "unsolvable task"). Her research employs both operant and classical conditioning techniques, as well as behavioral observations during novel experimental tasks that do not require learning. Brianna is also interested in human-animal interaction, and how it effects the well-being of humans. In addition to research, she has taught undergraduates in psychology since the start of her Ph.D studies at GMU. Brianna was recognized as an Outstanding Teaching Assistant at George Mason University in 2018 and is a true lover of psychology and sharing it with her undergraduates. Brianna is also the creator of Dog Science Weekly, which provides readers with access to summaries of peer-reviewed literature on canine cognition and behavior, conveniently through the Instagram platform. If you'd like to follow, go to @DogScienceWeekly on Instagram or visit the full blog page at 

Current Research

  • Comparing and validating methodological inconsistencies in the "unsolvable task" to study social cognition in dogs
  • Impact of lifestyle (working vs. companion) on persistence versus social referencing during an "unsolvable task" in hound dogs

Past research:

-Canine response to human emotional expressions

-Breed and age differences in object-word learning in domestic dogs

Selected Publications

Artz, B. L., & Davis, D. B. (2017) Green Care: A review of the benefits and potential of animal-assisted care farming globally and in rural America. Animals, 7(4), 31.

Artz, B. L., & Davis, D. B. (in preparation) Mechanisms of object-word learning in different breeds of dog (Canis Familiaris): Fast-mapping or Operant Conditioning?

Courses Taught

Principles of Learning (PSYC 304)

Principles of Learning Lab (PSYC 304L)

Research Methods in Psychology (PSYC 301)

Cognitive Psychology (PSYC 317)

Psychology of Communication (PSYC 406) 

Biopsychology (PSYC 372)

Mystery, Madness & Murder (PSYC 405)


B.S Psychology, Developmental Concentration, Honors; George Mason University 

M.A. Psychology, Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience, George Mason University 

Recent Presentations

Artz, B. L. & Davis, D. B. (2020, Mar) Object-word learning in dogs: breed-based differences? To be presented at the Eastern Psychological Association conference, Boston, Massachusetts.

Artz, B. L. & Davis, D. B. (2018, Apr) Do dogs respond to genuine rather than masked or simulated human emotions? Poster presented at the annual Neuroscience Symposium, Krasnow Institute, Fairfax, Virginia.

Artz, B. L., & Davis, D. B. (2017, Apr) “Man’s Best Friend” really is your best friend: Canine response to owner and stranger emotions compared. Poster presented at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research, Memphis, Tennessee.

Artz, B. L., & Davis, D. B. (2016, Aug.) Human-Canine Interactions: A Comparison of Canine Response to the Emotions of their Owners and Strangers. Poster presented at the annual Oscar Summer Celebration of Scholarship, Fairfax, Virginia.

For a full list, please see my CV.

In the Media


Instagram: @DogScienceWeekly