Non-invasive assessment of positive affective state using infra-red thermography in rats

Wongsaengchan, C., McCafferty, D. J. , Lennox, K., Nager, R. G. and McKeegan, D. E.F. (2023) Non-invasive assessment of positive affective state using infra-red thermography in rats. Animal Welfare, 32(e66), pp. 1-15. (doi: 10.1017/awf.2023.87)

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With recent increased focus on positive welfare in animal welfare science, there is demand for objective positive welfare indicators. It is unclear whether changes in body surface temperature can be used to non-invasively identify and quantify positive states in mammals. We recorded continuous measurements of tail surface temperature using infra-red thermography (IRT) and concurrent behavioural observations in male and female Wistar rats (Rattus norvegicus). If tail surface temperature can differentiate between positive and negative experiences, we expect a qualitatively different response compared to negative experiences. Three groups of rats were presented with increasing magnitudes of food rewards (neutral/none, one and three rewards). The rats were placed in an arena to which they were habituated and filmed for 30 s before and 30 min after exposure to different rewards. Tail temperature initially decreased from the pre-reward baseline and subsequently returned towards baseline temperature. The overall pattern of the change was the same as for rats subjected to negative stimuli in previous studies. Nevertheless, dynamic changes in tail temperature, specifically the rate of recovery and the behavioural response (exploration), differed between neutral and rewarded rats but failed to distinguish reward magnitude. Sex differences were found in both thermal and behavioural responses, unrelated to reward magnitudes. Female rats exhibited a greater initial response with a slower recovery than male rats, emphasising the value of using of both sexes in animal welfare research. This study improves our understanding of the effects of positive emotions induced by food reward on peripheral body temperature and behaviour.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Wongsaengchan, Chanakarn and McKeegan, Dr Dorothy and Nager, Dr Ruedi and McCafferty, Dr Dominic
Authors: Wongsaengchan, C., McCafferty, D. J., Lennox, K., Nager, R. G., and McKeegan, D. E.F.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Journal Name:Animal Welfare
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
ISSN (Online):2054-1538
Published Online:29 September 2023
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2023 The Authors
First Published:First published in Animal Welfare 32(e66):1-15
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons licence

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
190530Thermography as a tool for the assessment of stress and affective states in an avian modelDorothy McKeeganBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)BB/K002775/1Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine