MSc Project (6 months), The Netherlands

 6th Dec 2019

A method to assess rat happiness

Wageningen University, The Netherlands

in collaboration with

Philipps University of Marburg, Germany


A key indicator of human happiness is ‘affect balance’: the ratio of positive to negative emotions. ‘Happy’ humans frequently report positive emotions and infrequently report negative emotions. Affect balance is used to assess human happiness since the 1960s, but was never applied to animal welfare.

We are looking for a student for a short 6 months project to develop a method to assess affect balance in a very well researched species for which emotional vocalisations have already been categorised, specifically the rat. We will use recordings of rat vocalisations provided by Dr Markus Wöhr (Behavioural Neuroscience, Philipps University of Marburg, Germany) acquired during previous studies where positive or negative conditions were applied. An R programme will be written to: 1. Recognise the different types of vocalisations automatically and link them to positive or negative emotional experiences, 2. Compute the frequency of positive and negative vocalisations, and 3. Compute the affect balance. Alternatively the software Deep squeak can be used.

Student should ideally have the following:

  • Be in an MSc trajectory related to animals in some way
  • Have experience with sound analysis or equivalent
  • Have experience with R

If interested, please contact Dr Laura Webb, Wageningen University, the Netherlands ().

Application deadline: 6 January, 2020 at 17:00 h

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