Geometric morphometrics for the study of facial expressions in non-human animals, using the domestic cat as an exemplar

Finka, Lauren and Luna, Stelio and Brondani, Juliana and Tzimiropoulos, Yorgos and McDonagh, John and Farnworth, Mark and Ruta, Marcello and Mills, Daniel (2019) Geometric morphometrics for the study of facial expressions in non-human animals, using the domestic cat as an exemplar. Scientific Reports, 9 (1). ISSN 2045-2322

Full content URL: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-46330-5

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Geometric morphometrics for the study of facial expressions in non-human animals, using the domestic cat as an exemplar
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Abstract

Facial expression is a common channel for the communication of emotion. However, in the case of non-human animals, the analytical methods used to quantify facial expressions can be subjective, relying heavily on extrapolation from human-based systems. Here, we demonstrate how geometric morphometrics can be applied in order to overcome these problems. We used this approach to identify and quantify changes in facial shape associated with pain in a non-human animal species. Our method accommodates individual variability, species-specific facial anatomy, and postural effects. Facial images were captured at four different time points during ovariohysterectomy of domestic short haired cats (n = 29), with time points corresponding to varying intensities of pain. Images were annotated using landmarks specifically chosen for their relationship with underlying musculature, and relevance to cat-specific facial action units. Landmark data were subjected to normalisation before Principal Components (PCs) were extracted to identify key sources of facial shape variation, relative to pain intensity. A significant relationship between PC scores and a well-validated composite measure of post-operative pain in cats (UNESP-Botucatu MCPS tool) was evident, demonstrating good convergent validity between our geometric face model, and other metrics of pain detection. This study lays the foundation for the automatic, objective detection of emotional expressions in a range of non-human animal species.

Keywords:Domestic cat
Subjects:D Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects > D390 Veterinary Sciences not elsewhere classified
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
ID Code:36414
Deposited On:10 Jul 2019 14:36

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