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Validation of hippocampal biomarkers of cumulative affective experience

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Colline PoirierORCiD, Professor Melissa BatesonORCiD, Dr Fabio Gualtieri, Elena Armstrong, Grace Laws, Dr Timothy Boswell, Dr Tom SmuldersORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Progress in improving the welfare of captive animals has been hindered by a lack of objective indicators to assess the quality of lifetime experience, often called cumulative affective experience. Recent developments in stress biology and psychiatry have shed new light on the role of the mammalian hippocampus in affective processes. Here we review these findings and argue that structural hippocampal biomarkers demonstrate criterion, construct and content validity as indicators of cumulative affective experience in mammals. We also briefly review emerging findings in birds and fish, which have promising implications for applying the hippocampal approach to these taxa, but require further validation. We hope that this review will motivate welfare researchers and neuroscientists to explore the potential of hippocampal biomarkers of cumulative affective experience.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Poirier C, Bateson M, Gualtieri F, Armstrong EA, Laws GC, Boswell T, Smulders TV

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews

Year: 2019

Volume: 101

Pages: 113-121

Print publication date: 01/06/2019

Online publication date: 03/04/2019

Acceptance date: 31/03/2019

Date deposited: 16/04/2019

ISSN (print): 0149-7634

ISSN (electronic): 1873-7528

Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


DOI: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2019.03.024


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Funder referenceFunder name
BB/K003534/1Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)