What does a horse feel? Do they even feel anything?

5. September, 2023

What does a horse feel? Do they even feel anything?

New research reveals emotional responses in horses through headband technology.

It has been known for a few years now that certain EEG waves can signal depression, anxiety and satisfaction in humans, but they have now moved on to also investigate it in animals. EEG studies of rodents and pets, meanwhile, have revealed how they respond to being touched by a human or under anesthesia, but a way to record brain waves in moving animals has still not been found.

In short, this is because it requires placement in certain positions on the head and the cables must be connected to a machine.

Therefore, this has most often meant that animals are either restrained or anesthetized during measurements.

Neurophysicist Hugo Cousillas has spent 6 years developing a device for horses that only has 4 electrodes, whereas those for humans have far more.

Once he had developed the new device, the experiment began by taking EEG recordings of 18 horses. Here, half of the horses lived in individual stalls in a classic, closed stable, while the other half roamed in herds in open fields.

It turned out that the two groups had very different EEG profiles. The horses in the stable showed an average of 2.5 times more “gamma” waves in the right hemisphere of the brain. In humans, it is often a sign of anxiety, distraction or depression. The horses that spent most of their time outdoors showed twice as many “theta” waves from the left hemisphere of the brain, which is generally a sign of a calm and alert mind.

You can read more about the research project here