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Expression vocale des émotions chez les mammifères : codage, décodage et perception homme-animal

English title Vocal expression of emotions in mammals: encoding, decoding and human-animal perception
Applicant Mandel-Briefer Elodie
Number 148200
Funding scheme Ambizione
Research institution Institut für Agrarwissenschaften ETH Zürich
Institution of higher education ETH Zurich - ETHZ
Main discipline Zoology
Start/End 01.11.2013 - 28.02.2017
Approved amount 557'011.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Zoology
Ethology

Keywords (6)

ungulates; vocal communication; emotional contagion; emotions; domestication; human-animal comparison

Lay Summary (French)

Lead
La communication des émotions permet de réguler les interactions sociales. Les indicateurs d’émotion dans la voix humaine ont fait l’objet de nombreuses études. En revanche, plus d’études sont nécessaires afin d’identifier le lien existant entre les émotions éprouvées par les animaux, et les caractéristiques de leurs vocalisations.
Lay summary

Contenu et objectifs du travail de recherche

Dans un premier temps, je vais examiner les indicateurs d’émotion chez les mammifères. Dans un deuxième temps, je vais étudier l’effet de la domestication sur notre capacité à identifier les indicateurs vocaux d’émotion chez les animaux, ainsi que vice-versa (la capacité des animaux à percevoir les émotions dans la voix humaine). Dans ce but, je vais comparer cette capacité chez trois espèces domestiques (chevaux, chèvres et cochons) et trois espèces sauvages qui leurs sont proches (chevaux de Przewalski, bouquetins et sangliers). Cette capacité de communication vocale homme-animal des émotions peut s’expliquer de plusieurs manières. Premièrement, les indicateurs d’émotions pourraient avoir été conservés au cours de l’évolution, et donc être très similaires entre humains et animaux. Deuxièmement, humains et animaux pourraient avoir acquis cette capacité au cours de la domestication, dans quel cas la communication des émotions devrait être plus efficace entre humains et animaux domestiques que sauvages. Finalement, cette capacité pourrait s’acquérir avec l’expérience, ce qui présuppose que les personnes étant en contact avec des animaux domestiques seraient meilleures que les autres dans l’identification des émotions de ces espèces.

Contexte scientifique et social du projet de recherche

Mes résultats vont conduire à une meilleure compréhension de l’évolution des indicateurs d’émotion. De plus, mon projet permettra de connaître l’effet de la domestication sur la communication homme-animal.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 08.10.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Expression of emotional valence in pig closed-mouth grunts: Involvement of both source- and filter-related parameters
Briefer Elodie F., Vizier Emilie, Gygax Lorenz, Hillmann Edna (2019), Expression of emotional valence in pig closed-mouth grunts: Involvement of both source- and filter-related parameters, in The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 145(5), 2895-2908.
Perception de la valence émotionnelle des vocalisations par les équidés
Maigrot A.-L., Hillmann E., Briefer E. F. (2018), Perception de la valence émotionnelle des vocalisations par les équidés, in Agroscope Science, 60, 22-23.
Vocal contagion of emotions in non-human animals
Briefer E F (2018), Vocal contagion of emotions in non-human animals, in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 285, 20172783.
Perception of emotional valence in horse whinnies
Briefer Elodie, Mandel Roi, Maigrot Anne-Laure, Briefer Freymond Sabrina, Bachmann Iris, Hillmann Edna (2017), Perception of emotional valence in horse whinnies, in Frontiers in Zoology, 17, 8.
Vocal expression of emotional valence in Przewalski’s horses (Equus przewalskii)
Maigrot Anne-Laure, Hillmann Edna, Anne Callista, Briefer Elodie (2017), Vocal expression of emotional valence in Przewalski’s horses (Equus przewalskii), in Scientific Reports, 7, 8779.
Indicateurs d’intensité et de valence émotionnelle chez le cheval de Prjevalski
Maigrot Anne-Laure, Anne Callista, Hillmann Edna, Briefer Elodie (2016), Indicateurs d’intensité et de valence émotionnelle chez le cheval de Prjevalski, in Agroscope Science, 32, 26-27.
Contagion émotionnelle par les hennissements chez le cheval
Briefer Elodie, Mandel Roi, Maigrot Anne-Laure, Briefer Freymond Sabrina, Bachmann Iris, Hillmann Edna (2015), Contagion émotionnelle par les hennissements chez le cheval, in Agroscope Science , 19, 22-23.
Segregation of information about emotional arousal and valence in horse whinnies
Briefer Elodie, Maigrot Anne-Laure, Mandel Roi, Briefer Freymond Sabrina, Bachmann Iris, Hillmann Edna (2015), Segregation of information about emotional arousal and valence in horse whinnies, in Scientific Reports, 4, 9989.
Indicateurs d’intensité et de valence émotionnelle chez le cheval
Briefer Elodie, Maigrot Anne-Laure, Mandel Roi, Briefer Freymond Sabrina, Bachmann Iris, Hillmann Edna (2014), Indicateurs d’intensité et de valence émotionnelle chez le cheval, in Agroscope Science, 15, 24-25.
Encoding of Emotional Valence in Wild Boar (Sus scrofa) Calls
Maigrot A.-L., Hillmann E., Briefer E. F., Encoding of Emotional Valence in Wild Boar (Sus scrofa) Calls, in Animals, 8(6), 85.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
B. Zei Pollermann, Vox Institute Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
A. McElligott, Queen Mary University of London Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
H. Würbel, Vetsuisse-Fakultät, Universität Bern Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Exchange of personnel
Prof. Birger Puppe, Leibniz Institute for Farm Animal Biology, Dummerstorf, Germany Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Unité Mixte de Recherche sur les Herbivores, INRA, Clermond-Ferrant, France France (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Dept of Cognitive Biology, University of Vienna Austria (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
V. Gerber and D. Burger, Swiss National Stud Farm, Avenches Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
S. Briefer and I. Bachmann, Swiss National Stud Farm, Avenches Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Zukunft der Tierernährung zwischen Effizienz und Konsumentenansprüchen Talk given at a conference Perception intra- et inter-spécifique de la valence émotionnelle des vocalisations par les Equidae et Scrofae 08.05.2018 Zürich, Switzerland Mandel-Briefer Elodie;
13. Jahrestagung Netzwerk Pferdeforschung Schweiz Talk given at a conference Perception de la valence émotionnelle des vocalisations par les équidés 19.04.2018 Avenches, Switzerland Maigrot Anne-Laure;
Workshop: NCCR Evolution of language Talk given at a conference Emotional expressions in animal sounds and in human speech: any evidence for similarities in the acoustic structure? 09.12.2016 Zürich, Switzerland Mandel-Briefer Elodie;
Dagstuhl workshop - Vocal Interactivity in-and-between Humans, Animals and Robots (VIHAR) Talk given at a conference Acoustic communication in animals: a window to their inner state 30.10.2016 Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz Center for Informatics, Wadern, Germany Mandel-Briefer Elodie;
50th International Congress of the International Society for Applied Ethology Poster Vocal expression of emotions in European wild boars 12.07.2016 Edinburgh, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Maigrot Anne-Laure;
50th International Congress of the International Society for Applied Ethology Talk given at a conference Vocal expression of emotions in pigs 12.07.2016 Edinburgh, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Mandel-Briefer Elodie;
Animal and Human Emotions Poster Vocal expression of emotions in European wild boars 17.05.2016 Erice, Sicily, Italy Maigrot Anne-Laure;
Animal and Human Emotions Poster Vocal indicators of emotional arousal and valence in cattle 17.05.2016 Erice, Sicily, Italy Mandel-Briefer Elodie;
11ème Journée du Réseau de recherche équine en Suisse Poster Indicateurs d’intensité et de valence émotionnelle chez le cheval de Prjevalski 06.04.2016 Avenches, Switzerland Maigrot Anne-Laure; Mandel-Briefer Elodie;
Inauguration of the Swiss Doctoral School in Affective Sciences Poster Vocal expression of emotions in Przewalski horses 15.09.2015 Genève, Switzerland Maigrot Anne-Laure;
XXV meeting of the International Bioacoustics Council (IBAC) Poster Vocal expression of emotions in Przewalski horses 07.09.2015 Murnau, Germany Maigrot Anne-Laure;
XXV meeting of the International Bioacoustics Council (IBAC) Talk given at a conference Emotional contagion through whinnies in horses 07.09.2015 Murnau, Germany Mandel-Briefer Elodie;
XXV meeting of the International Bioacoustics Council (IBAC) Poster Vocal expression of emotion in cattle 07.09.2015 Murnau, Germany Mandel-Briefer Elodie;
Walks and Talks, Division of Animal Welfare at the University of Bern Talk given at a conference Vocal expression of emotions in Przewalski horses 22.06.2015 Ranflüh, Bern, Switzerland Maigrot Anne-Laure;
10ème Journée du Réseau de recherche équine en Suisse Poster Contagion émotionnelle par les hennissements chez le cheval 07.04.2015 Avenches, Switzerland Maigrot Anne-Laure; Mandel-Briefer Elodie;
46. International Tagung Angewandte Ethologie Talk given at a conference Vocal expression of emotions in Przewalski horses and wild boars: encoding and decoding 19.11.2014 Freiburg , Germany Maigrot Anne-Laure;
VII European Conference on Behavioral Biology Talk given at a conference Expression of emotional arousal and valence in horses 17.07.2014 Prague, Czech Republic Mandel-Briefer Elodie;
Walks and Talks, Division of Animal Welfare at the University of Bern Talk given at a conference Vocal expression of emotions in Przewalski horses and wild boars: encoding and decoding 04.07.2014 Ocourt, Jura, Switzerland Maigrot Anne-Laure;
9ème Journée du Réseau de recherche équine en Suisse Talk given at a conference Indicateurs d’intensité et de valence émotionnelle chez le cheval 10.04.2014 Avenches, Switzerland Mandel-Briefer Elodie;
XXXI Encontro Anual de Ethologia Talk given at a conference Vocal indicators of positive and negative emotions in mammals 10.11.2013 Sao Paulo, Brazil Mandel-Briefer Elodie;


Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
185198 Vocal production in horses: structures and implications 01.03.2020 Project funding (Div. I-III)

Abstract

Expression of emotions plays an important role in social species, including humans, because they regulate social interactions. Indicators of emotions in human voice have been studied in detail. However, similar studies testing a direct link between emotions and vocal structure in non-human animals are rare. In particular, little is known about how animals encode in their vocalizations, information about the valence (positive/negative) of the emotion they are experiencing. A comparative approach between humans and other animals would give us a better understanding of how the expression of emotions evolved. The proposed research aims to combine new methods developed to study animal emotions and vocalizations, in order to investigate how mammals encode information about emotions in their vocalizations, and if conspecifics decode and respond to these vocal indicators. It also aims to investigate if even heterospecific (humans) can perceive emotions in non-human animal vocalizations and vice-versa. This could be achieved because vocal expression of emotions has been highly conserved throughout mammal evolution, facilitating inter-species communication, and/or because domestication has facilitated human-animal vocal communication. In order to test these two hypotheses, I will compare three species of domestic ungulates (horses, goats and pigs) and three closely related wild species (Przewalski’s horses, Alpine ibex and wild boars, respectively; habituated to humans). The proposed research is composed of four sets of experiments. First, I will investigate vocal expression of emotional arousal (intensity) and valence in the six studied species. To this aim, I will record vocalizations produced by the animals in situations characterized by different emotional valence and arousal. Behavioural and physiological measures taken when the animals are vocalizing will confirm their emotional states. The results of these experiments will provide better knowledge of the manner in which emotions are encoded in non-human mammals. Second, I will investigate if animals perceive indicators of emotional arousal and valence in conspecific vocalizations and how they react to these indicators. I will play back vocalizations recorded in situations characterized by different emotional arousal and valence to conspecifics, and measure their behavioural and physiological responses. These results could add to our understanding of emotional contagion in animals and of the role that vocalizations play in the transfer of emotions. Third, I will test if humans can recognize indicators of emotional arousal and valence in animal vocalizations and if this ability depends on their experience with the species. For this purpose, I will use online questionnaires to test if people can assign vocalizations to the correct emotional arousal and valence in which the animals were during the recordings. Finally, I will test if the studied species can perceive indicators of emotional arousal and valence in human voice. I will also test if this ability depends on the domestic history of the species (i.e. domesticated or not, time since first domestication and domestication pathway) and on the way humans interact with these animals (i.e. companion species or not for domestic species). To this aim, I will record the voices of the studied animals’ owners/caretakers during verbal recalls of emotional experiences of sadness, anger and joy. I will then play back these recordings to the animals and measure their behavioural and physiological responses. These findings will provide better understanding of the phylogenetic continuity of affect vocalization, of emotional contagion between humans and animals, which is at the basis of empathy, and of the impact of domestication on the ability of humans and animals to communicate. Vocal correlates of emotions in animals revealed in this study could also represent convenient and non-invasive indicators of emotions relevant to several disciplines, ranging from affective neuroscience to animal welfare research. These indicators would be particularly useful for non-domesticated species that cannot be easily manipulated, such as the Przewalski’s horse, which is endangered. They could also serve as useful models for studies on humans, in which a greater motor control results in confounding factors, like cultural norms, influencing the way emotions affect voice parameters. Finally, comparisons between domestic and wild species could reveal interesting findings about the effect of domestication on the structure of animal vocalizations.
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