About this Research Topic
Whenever and whichever way we look at the relationship between human and animals, some fundamental questions about animals are always at the centre of the debate. How do animals perceive and respond to stressors? Do animals feel pain? What do animals need or want? Are animals sentient? Are animals conscious? What are they conscious of? Which animals are capable of one or all the above? Answers to these questions drive the ethics of our interactions with animals.
Animal welfare science has generated data using physiological and behavioural approaches that help us in our search for answers to these questions. Recently, using techniques derived from the field of ethology and psychology, the emotional component of the life of animals has started to be explored. However, while considering the list of questions and the types of animal welfare research listed above, it is evident that the field of neuroscience also has a central role in helping to answer these questions and to advance the ethical debate of the use of non-human animals by humans.
While a number of studies have directly addressed some aspects of the neurobiology of animal welfare, it seems that animal welfare science has not fully taken advantage of the latest technical and theoretical advances in neurosciences. We think it is timely to ask animal welfare scientists and neuroscientists what are the latest developments in neurosciences related to animal welfare and how neuroscience could and should further inform and guide the debate on animal welfare and our relationship with animals.
Keywords: Animal welfare, Neuroscience, Neurobiology, Cognition, Emotion, Stress
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