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Assessing Affective State in Laboratory Rodents to Promote Animal Welfare—What Is the Progress in Applied Refinement Research?

Authors
  • Jirkof, Paulin1
  • Rudeck, Juliane2
  • Lewejohann, Lars2, 3
  • 1 Department Animal Welfare and 3R, University of Zurich, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland
  • 2 (L.L.)
  • 3 Institute of Animal Welfare, Animal Behavior and Laboratory Animal Science, Freie University Berlin, 14163 Berlin, Germany
Type
Published Article
Journal
Animals : an Open Access Journal from MDPI
Publisher
MDPI
Publication Date
Nov 25, 2019
Volume
9
Issue
12
Identifiers
DOI: 10.3390/ani9121026
PMID: 31775293
PMCID: PMC6941082
Source
PubMed Central
Keywords
License
Green

Abstract

Simple Summary In the past, there was a strong focus on avoiding or reducing negative animal welfare in animal experimentation. Recently, the importance of promoting positive animal welfare in laboratory animals has been highlighted. To ensure and promote positive animal welfare, reliable methods to evaluate the animal’s emotional state are important. Important achievements have been made to assess pain and other negative states in animals in the last decades, and only recently have positive emotions been gaining more interest. Therefore, more methods allowing the assessment of emotional states in animals have been introduced. In this overview article, we present common and emerging methods to assess emotions in laboratory rodents. We focus on the use of these methods in applied refinement research to identify achieved progress as well as the potential of these tools to improve animal welfare in animal-based research and animal experimentation. Abstract An animal’s capacity to suffer is a prerequisite for any animal welfare concern, and the minimization of suffering is a key aim of refinement research. In contrast to the traditional focus on avoiding or reducing negative welfare states, modern animal welfare concepts highlight the importance of promoting positive welfare states in laboratory animals. Reliable assessments of affective states, as well as the knowledge of how to elicit positive affective states, are central to this concept. Important achievements have been made to assess pain and other negative affective states in animals in the last decades, but it is only recently that the neurobiology of positive emotions in humans and animals has been gaining more interest. Thereby, the need for promotion of positive affective states for laboratory animals is gaining more acceptance, and methods allowing the assessment of affective states in animals have been increasingly introduced. In this overview article, we present common and emerging methods to assess affective states in laboratory rodents. We focus on the implementation of these methods into applied refinement research to identify achieved progress as well as the future potential of these tools to improve animal welfare in animal-based research.

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