Professor Michael Mendl
Professor Michael Mendl
Division of Animal Health and,
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Telephone Number (0117) 928 9485
Animal Welfare, Emotion and Cognition
My research interests are in the area of animal behaviour and welfare.
I am interested in the links between affective and cognitive processes, in particular the ways in which attention, memory and decision-making both influence and are influenced by affective state. One aim of our current research, in collaboration with psychologist Dr Liz Paul, is to investigate whether affect-induced modulation of decision-making, which leads to so-called 'cognitive bias' in humans, is also observed in animals, and hence can be used as a novel indicator of animal affect (emotion) and welfare.
I am also interested in the evolution and function of affective states, developing new measures of animal emotion and welfare that can be used under field conditions, and understanding more about animal cognition, emotion, personality, and social behaviour with a view to identifying and minimising welfare problems for captive animals.
I also have interests in the influence of early experience and social behaviour (including mother-offspring relations, early husbandry procedures, and 'abnormal behaviours' such as tail-biting in pigs) on behavioural development, an individual's ability to cope with challenge, and animal welfare.
emotion, cognition, decision-making, animal welfare, animal behaviour
- Development of a new technique for measuring biases in decision-making under ambiguity ('judgement biases') in non-human animals
- Affect-induced judgement biases appear to be reliable new indicators of animal emotion and welfare
- Affect-induced judgement biases have now been observed in rats, humans and dogs. Other labs have used our technique to demonstrate them in rodents, sheep, starlings, rhesus monkeys, pigs, and honeybees
- Sensitivity to reward loss may also be a useful new indicator of animal emotion and welfare
- 'Discrete' and 'dimensional' theories of emotion can be integrated to provide a functional view of animal emotion and the role of affect in altering decision-making
- The influence of threat (e.g. probability of predation) on optimal decision-making by combined fast/inaccurate and slow/accurate mechanisms can be modelled
- Early experience of stressful husbandry effects may have lifelong consequences in sheep
- Pigs can adjust their foraging behaviour to avoid their knowledge being exploited depending on whom they are foraging with
Techniques in routine use
Operant tests of decision-making
Equipment in routine use
Coulbourn operant equipment, Sound recording hardware and software (Avisoft)
Dr Emily Blackwell, Prof Bill Browne, Dr Tilo Burghardt, Dr Neill Campbell, Dr Rachel Casey, Prof Innes Cuthill, Dr Sion Hannuna, Dr Suzanne Held, Dr James Hodge, Prof Alasdair Houston, Prof John McNamara, Dr Jo Murrell, Prof Christine Nicol, Dr Liz Paul, Dr Emma Robinson, Dr Pete Trimmer, Dr Becky Whay, Prof Nicky Clayton (University of Cambridge), Prof Peter Dayan (UCL), Prof Melissa Bateson (University of Newcastle), Dr Oliver Burman (University of Lincoln), Prof Georgia Mason (University of Guelph Canada), Profs Harry Blokhuis and Linda Keeling (SLU Uppsala Sweden), Dr Jens Malmkvist (University of Aarhus Denmark)
- Mendl, M, Burman, O & Paul, E 2010, An integrative and functional framework for the study of animal emotion and mood. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, vol 277., pp. 2895 - 2904
- Mendl, M, Brooks, J, Basse, C, Burman, O, Paul, E, Blackwell, E & Casey, R 2010, Dogs showing separation-related behaviour exhibit a ‘pessimistic’ cognitive bias. Current Biology, vol 20., pp. R839 - R840
- Burman, O, Parker, R, Paul, E & Mendl, M 2009, Anxiety-induced cognitive bias in non-human animals. Physiology and Behavior, vol 98 (3)., pp. 251 - 380
- Mendl, M, Burman, O, Parker, R & Paul, E 2009, Cognitive bias as an indicator of animal emotion and welfare: emerging evidence and underlying mechanisms. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, vol 118., pp. 161 - 181
- Trimmer, P, Houston, AI, Marshall, J, Bogacz, R, Paul, E, Mendl, MT & McNamara, JM 2008, Mammalian Choices: combining fast-but-inaccurate and slow-but-accurate decision-making systems. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, vol 275(1649)., pp. 2353 - 2361
- KilBride, A, Mendl, M, Statham, P, Held, S, Harris, M, Cooper, S & Green, L 2012, A cohort study of preweaning piglet mortality and farrowing accommodation on 112 commercial pig farms in England. Preventive veterinary medicine, vol 104., pp. 281 - 291
- Taylor, NR, Parker, RMA, Mendl, M, Edwards, SA & Main, DCJ 2012, Prevalence of risk factors for tail biting on commercial farms and intervention strategies. Veterinary journal (London, England : 1997), vol 194., pp. 77-83
- Svendsen, P, Malmkvist, J, Halekoh, U & Mendl, MT 2012, Responses of mink to auditory stimuli: Prerequisites for applying the ‘cognitive bias’ approach. Behavioural Processes.
- Seehuus, B, Blokhuis, H, Mendl, MT & Keeling, L 2012, Developing a method to investigate motivational sequences in the chick. Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica Section A Animal Science Supplementum.
- Paul, E, Pope, S, Fennell, J & Mendl, M 2012, Social Anxiety Modulates Subliminal Affective Priming. PLoS One, vol 7., pp. 1 - 7
Full publications list in the University of Bristol publications system