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Behav. Sci. 2016, 6(1), 2; doi:10.3390/bs6010002

Emotion Evaluation and Response Slowing in a Non-Human Primate: New Directions for Cognitive Bias Measures of Animal Emotion?

1
Research Centre in Brain and Behaviour, School of Natural Sciences and Psychology, James Parsons Building, Liverpool John Moores University, Byrom Street, Liverpool L3 3AF, UK
2
Centre for Research in Cognition, Emotion and Interaction, University of Roehampton, London SW15 4JD, UK
3
Centre for Research in Evolutionary, Social and Interdisciplinary Anthropology, University of Roehampton, London SW15 4JD, UK
These authors contributed equally to this work.
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Jennifer Vonk
Received: 4 December 2015 / Revised: 22 December 2015 / Accepted: 27 December 2015 / Published: 11 January 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Animal Cognition)
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Abstract

The cognitive bias model of animal welfare assessment is informed by studies with humans demonstrating that the interaction between emotion and cognition can be detected using laboratory tasks. A limitation of cognitive bias tasks is the amount of training required by animals prior to testing. A potential solution is to use biologically relevant stimuli that trigger innate emotional responses. Here; we develop a new method to assess emotion in rhesus macaques; informed by paradigms used with humans: emotional Stroop; visual cueing and; in particular; response slowing. In humans; performance on a simple cognitive task can become impaired when emotional distractor content is displayed. Importantly; responses become slower in anxious individuals in the presence of mild threat; a pattern not seen in non-anxious individuals; who are able to effectively process and disengage from the distractor. Here; we present a proof-of-concept study; demonstrating that rhesus macaques show slowing of responses in a simple touch-screen task when emotional content is introduced; but only when they had recently experienced a presumably stressful veterinary inspection. Our results indicate the presence of a subtle “cognitive freeze” response; the measurement of which may provide a means of identifying negative shifts in emotion in animals. View Full-Text
Keywords: animal welfare; appraisal theory; attention bias; cognitive bias; emotion evaluation; emotional stroop; freeze; primate; response slowing; rhesus macaque animal welfare; appraisal theory; attention bias; cognitive bias; emotion evaluation; emotional stroop; freeze; primate; response slowing; rhesus macaque
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Bethell, E.J.; Holmes, A.; MacLarnon, A.; Semple, S. Emotion Evaluation and Response Slowing in a Non-Human Primate: New Directions for Cognitive Bias Measures of Animal Emotion? Behav. Sci. 2016, 6, 2.

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