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Browsing by Author "Koppelomäki, Krista"

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  • Koppelomäki, Krista (2023)
    Good understanding of animal emotions is vital for improvement of animal welfare. Emotions are affective states that are defined by positive or negative valence depending on the pleasantness of the situation, as well as the state of arousal or excitement. As subjective experiences, emotions are hard to measure directly. Lateralization, a phenomenon in which emotion processing is done asymmetrically in different hemispheres of the brain, has been used to study changes in valence. The state of arousal is known to cause changes in the activation of the autonomic nervous system, which lead to changes in peripheral blood circulation. These neurologically mediated changes in blood flow can lead to changes in surface temperature that can be detected by infrared thermography (IRT). IRT is a technology that’s based on converting infrared radiation to images. From these images, the surface temperature of an animal can be quantitatively measured. Previous studies have focused mostly on negative emotions, which are known to affect surface temperatures. Positive and neutral affective states are in need of more research, as they have been studied less. Lateralization is also still a fairly new area of research. In this thesis I investigated if there would be detectable surface temperature patterns in riding horses at Cypis-talli, Espoo, that could be linked with mainly positive and neutral emotional states. I also explored the possibility of finding lateralization effects related to emotional states in horses. Additionally, I wanted to know if these changes in surface temperature would be situational or dependent on individual variation. We used naturally occurring situations in the horses’ lives to observe them in three situations: one where the horses got fed, one where they were taken outside to the paddocks after feeding, and one where the horses were momentarily separated from their paddocking buddies. During all situations the horses’ eyes and nasal region were measured with a thermal camera. Numerical data was collected from the images and analysed with linear mixed models and post-hoc pairwise comparisons. I found that there were significant changes in surface temperature in the eyes and nasal region of the horse that were likely related to changes in arousal. The surface temperature of the eyes and nasal region dropped when the horses got their feed, got taken outside to the paddocks and when they were separated and reunited with another familiar horse. Another finding was that there appeared to be a lateralization effect in the eyes and nasal region on the nasal cavities. There seemed to be a lot of individual variation in temperature throughout. An interesting finding was that the health condition of the horse significantly affected the temperature changes in many cases. My results suggest that surface temperature effects that have been previously seen in other species via IRT can also be detected in horses, and that the changes in temperature are most likely related to the emotional state and health status of the animal. Nasal temperature could be useful for measurement in future studies, but further research to validate its use in detection of emotional or health related states is required.