Please join Bilkent University’s Psychology Department on Friday for the virtual visit of Prof. Mike Mendl.
Speaker: Mike Mendl. University of Bristol
“Animal emotion and decision-making: judgement bias as an indicator of animal affect and welfare”
Date: Friday, 10 December 2021
***This is an online event. To obtain Zoom link and password, please contact to the department.
Abstract: The study of animal emotion is of growing interest to neuroscientists, psychopharmacologists, drug development researchers, biologists, and animal welfare scientists. However, because the concept of animal emotion (affect) can generate misunderstanding and confusion, a clear operational definition is required to facilitate scientific research in this area. After presenting such a definition, I will describe our work on a ‘cognitive assay’ that uses decision-making under ambiguity (so-called judgement biases) as a marker of affective valence (positivity vs negativity). Over 150 published studies on many different species, including humans, have now used this approach and I will present recent meta-analyses that indicate it has value as a translational measure of animal affect, but also reveal heterogeneity in findings that require further study. Two possible reasons for this heterogeneity are (i) lack of clarity about the ‘ground-truth’ state that animals are in when attempting to validate the judgement bias approach (a generic problem for validation of all new markers of animal emotion); (ii) the possibility that a number of decision-making processes influence judgement biases and these may be differentially altered by affective state. I will end by presenting recent studies that use affect manipulations based on our operational definition to tackle (i), and employ computational modelling to dissect potential underlying decision-making processes and hence address (ii).
About the speaker: Mike obtained his PhD in animal behaviour at Cambridge University. He then took a Royal Society European Research Fellowship to continue his work on behavioural development at Groningen University in the Netherlands, before returning to work at Cambridge University Vet School where he moved into the field of applied animal behaviour and welfare, studying the effects of housing systems on pig welfare. He subsequently took up a position as a Behavioural Scientist at the Scottish Agricultural College in Edinburgh, continuing his work on pig behaviour and welfare, and then moved to Bristol University Vet School where he is now Professor of Animal Behaviour and Welfare and Head of the Bristol Animal Welfare & Behaviour Group, and has previously been Deputy Head of School (Research). He is also lead of the BBSRC and UFAW Animal Welfare Research Network.