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Laterality, heart rate and EEG as measurements of animal welfare in dogs and horses

Abstract : Animal welfare is considered to be a multidimensional phenomenon based upon life experiences and conditions, characterized by how an individual feels and functions. The study of emotions in animals is difficult but assumptions of emotional states are usually derived from neurophysiological, behavioral and cognitive measurements. Recent literature shows that cerebral and behavioral laterality, cardiac activity and brain activity (measured by electroencephalography) are suitable parameters to examine animals’ and human emotional processing along the valence and arousal dimensions. The main aim of the present research project was to investigate dogs and horses perception of the emotional content of human signals that potentially affects animals’ affective state and welfare. An integrated approach combining the analysis of behavioral lateralization, cardiac and brain activity, and subjects’ behavior was applied in order to answer to the following questions: 1) Do dogs and horses perceive the different emotional content of human signals? 2) Do dogs and horses attribute a different valence and intensity to the human emotions perceived? Overall, the results of this thesis project demonstrate that dogs and horses process differently emotional signals according to their valence and intensity. In particular, horses perception of a human voice is modulated by the valence of the prior horse-human interactions and by subjects’ living conditions. As for dogs, results demonstrate that they discriminate and perceive differently the emotional content of human visual, auditory and olfactory signals, providing new insights into the emotional functioning of the canine brain. The current research offers a theoretical framework for defining useful parameters to evaluate animal welfare.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, November 13, 2019 - 10:06:30 AM
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Serenella d'Ingeo. Laterality, heart rate and EEG as measurements of animal welfare in dogs and horses. Human health and pathology. Université Rennes 1; Università degli Studi di Bari Aldo Moro (Bari, Italie), 2019. English. ⟨NNT : 2019REN1B010⟩. ⟨tel-02360897⟩

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