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Negative mood affects the expression of negative but not positive emotions in mice.

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Jasmine ClarksonORCiD, Dr Matthew Leach, Emeritus Professor Paul FlecknellORCiD, Professor Candy Rowe



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


© 2020 The Authors.Whether and to what extent animals experience emotions is crucial for understanding their decisions and behaviour, and underpins a range of scientific fields, including animal behaviour, neuroscience, evolutionary biology and animal welfare science. However, research has predominantly focused on alleviating negative emotions in animals, with the expression of positive emotions left largely unexplored. Therefore, little is known about positive emotions in animals and how their expression is mediated. We used tail handling to induce a negative mood in laboratory mice and found that while being more anxious and depressed increased their expression of a discrete negative emotion (disappointment), meaning that they were less resilient to negative events, their capacity to express a discrete positive emotion (elation) was unaffected relative to control mice. Therefore, we show not only that mice have discrete positive emotions, but that they do so regardless of their current mood state. Our findings are the first to suggest that the expression of discrete positive and negative emotions in animals is not equally affected by long-term mood state. Our results also demonstrate that repeated negative events can have a cumulative effect to reduce resilience in laboratory animals, which has significant implications for animal welfare.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Clarkson JM, Leach MC, Flecknell PA, Rowe C

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences

Year: 2020

Volume: 287

Issue: 1933

Print publication date: 26/08/2020

Online publication date: 26/08/2020

Acceptance date: 29/07/2020

Date deposited: 26/11/2020

ISSN (print): 0962-8452

ISSN (electronic): 1471-2954

Publisher: Royal Society Publishing


DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2020.1636

PubMed id: 32842924

Notes: Mood affects discrete emotions in mice


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Funder referenceFunder name
BBSRC DTP (grant no. BB/J014516/1).