Want To Read Your Horse’s Mind? Researchers Create A Headband That Can Help

Horsemen spend a lot of time trying to figure out whether their horses are stressed — a difficult task, given that they can’t speak English. A team of French scientists have created a new tool that could help shed light on equine emotions.

The magazine Science recently reported on the process undertaken by Dr. Martine Hausberger to create a mobile headband that detects equine brainwaves, offering insight into their emotions.

Hauseberger was investigating whether stressed horses had a harder time learning how to open a sliding door, when he noticed that animals confined to cramped spaces had a more difficult time paying attention to lessons. He hypothesized that the confined animals might be depressed.

Hauseberger wanted to use an electroencephalogram (EEG) on the horse to better understand his state of mind. An EEG machine measures electrical impulses in the brain and have been used to study sleep patterns and epilepsy in humans for over 100 years. More recently, EEGs have been used to decipher brain waves related to anxiety, depression, and contentedness.

Hausberger and neurophysicist Dr. Hugo Cousillas modified a wearable human EEG headband to fit the equine head. It includes just four electrodes and has no wires, making it usable up to 60 feet away from the receiver. The duo engaged the help of Dr. Mathilde Stomp and used the new EEG on 18 horses. Half of the study group lived outside in a herd and half lived in stalls.

The groups had very different EEG readouts: the horses kept in stalls exhibited 2.5 times more of the waves that indicate distraction, depression, and anxiety than their turned-out counterparts. The turned-out horses had more of the brain waves that indicate calmness and attentiveness.

Though equine brain waves can’t be interpreted in the same manner as human brainwaves, it’s an interesting way of measuring equine mental health.

Read more at Science.

The post Want To Read Your Horse’s Mind? Researchers Create A Headband That Can Help appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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