Investigating the cross-species emotional contagion

Fund

Student Grant

Grant

£2440

Research period

2024

Area of study

Student Research

Species

Laboratory animals

Theme

N/A

Status

Current

Investigator(s): Chloe Crichton-Feddo

Supervisor(s): Dr Justyna Hinchcliffe

Ensuring positive emotional well-being in laboratory animals is crucial for both their welfare and the integrity of scientific research. By refining handling techniques and providing positive reinforcement, we can enhance their overall experience in laboratory settings. Recent studies highlight animals’ ability to detect human negative emotions, emphasizing the importance of cross-species social cues. Research led by Prof. Emma Robinson’s group has pioneered objective methods to measure animals’ emotional states, offering valuable insights into their experiences during various interventions. One particularly promising finding is the use of ultrasonic vocalizations emitted by rats as a measure of their direct emotional experience. This innovative approach holds the potential to streamline the assessment of animal welfare without the need for extensive resources or equipment, marking a significant step forward in research and veterinary practices.