Mechanisms underlying cognitive bias in nonhuman primates

Recent research in nonhuman animals highlights the exciting possibility that performance on cognitive bias tasks might indirectly measure an individual’s subjective, affective state. Subjects first learn to perform a conditional discrimination task with two differentially reinforced responses, and then intermediate, unreinforced stimuli are introduced. Differences in affective state have been related to changes in the […]

Gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) Fail to Learn Abstract Cues of Differential Outcomes in a Novel Cognitive Bias Test

In order to assess mood state in three male western lowland gorillas housed in a bachelor group, we developed a novel version of a cognitive bias task. The background color of a touchscreen presented a conditional ‘if, then…” rule relating to outcomes involving differential amounts of food rewards. The gorillas struggled to reach a criterion […]

Evaluating mood changes in response to anthropogenic noise with a response-slowing task in three species of zoo-housed primates

In the zoo environment, anthropogenic noise is common as sound levels fluctuate due to visitors, construction, habitat design, and special events. In this study, changes in the mood of three species of zoo-housed primates in response to a loud annual event were evaluated with the response-slowing paradigm. In this paradigm, animals experiencing anxiety slow responses […]

The neurobiology of positive emotions

Compared to the study of negative emotions such as fear, the neurobiology of positive emotional processes and the associated positive affect (PA) states has only recently received scientific attention. Biological theories conceptualize PA as being related to (i) signals indicating that bodies are returning to equilibrium among those studying homeostasis, (ii) utility estimation among those […]

Assessment of positive welfare: A review

As a complement to the concentration on negative states in welfare science, scientists are increasingly considering the desirability of measuring positive outcomes. Since evaluation of an animal’s mental state is a critical goal for welfare assessment, considerations of both positive feelings (what an animal ‘‘likes’’) and resources that an animal is motivated to obtain (what […]

Assessing animal welfare: different philosophies, different scientific approaches

Abstract 10.1002/zoo.20253.abs Attempts to improve animal welfare have commonly centered around three broad objectives: (1) to ensure good physical health and functioning of animals, (2) to minimize unpleasant “affective states” (pain, fear, etc.) and to allow animals normal pleasures, and (3) to allow animals to develop and live in ways that are natural for the […]

Animal behaviour, animal welfare and the scientific study of affect

Many questions about animal welfare involve the affective states of animals (pain, fear, distress) and people look to science to clarify these issues as a basis for practices, policies and standards. However, the science of the mid twentieth century tended to be silent on matters of animal affect for both philosophical and methodological reasons. Philosophically, […]

Environmental enrichment induces optimistic cognitive bias in rats

People’s affective or emotional state can alter their cognitive processing, biasing interpretation of ambiguous stimuli. Those in a more positive state interpret such stimuli in a more optimistic manner than those in a negative state. Recently this research has extended to animals, and has shown that manipulations associated with negative affect cause animals to interpret […]

Measuring emotional processes in animals: the utility of a cognitive approach

Contemporary researchers regard emotional states as multifaceted, comprising physiological, behavioural, cognitive and subjective components. Subjective, conscious experience of emotion can be inferred from linguistic report in humans, but is inaccessible to direct measurement in non-human animals. However, measurement of other components of emotion is possible, and a variety of methods exist for monitoring emotional processes […]

On the Way to Assess Emotions in Animals: Do Lambs (Ovis aries) Evaluate an Event Through Its Suddenness, Novelty, or Unpredictability?

Appraisal theories provide a framework that gives insight into emotions and could allow comparisons across species. According to these theories, events are first evaluated on their suddenness, novelty, and unpredictability. The authors examined the ability of lambs (Ovis aries) to evaluate an event according to these 3 criteria through 3 tests. The lambs responded to […]