Attention bias to threat indicates anxiety differences in sheep
AuthorLee, C; Verbeek, E; Doyle, R; Bateson, M
Source TitleBiology Letters
University of Melbourne Author/sDoyle, Rebecca
AffiliationVeterinary Clinical Sciences
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsLee, C., Verbeek, E., Doyle, R. & Bateson, M. (2016). Attention bias to threat indicates anxiety differences in sheep. BIOLOGY LETTERS, 12 (6), https://doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2015.0977.
Access StatusOpen Access
Humans and animals show increased attention towards threatening stimuli when they are in increased states of anxiety. The few animal studies that have examined this phenomenon, known as attention bias, have applied environmental manipulations to induce anxiety but the effects of drug-induced anxiety levels on attention bias have not been demonstrated. Here, we present an attention bias test to identify high and low anxiety states in sheep using pharmacological manipulation. Increased anxiety was induced using 1-methyl-chlorophenylpiperazine (m-CPP) and decreased anxiety with diazepam, and then we examined the behaviour of sheep in response to the presence of a dog as a threat. Increased attention towards the threat and increased vigilance were shown in sheep that received the m-CPP and reduced in sheep receiving the diazepam. The modulated attention towards a threat displayed by the m-CPP and diazepam animals suggests that attention bias can assess different levels of anxiety in sheep. Measuring attention bias has the potential to improve animal welfare assessment protocols.
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