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Journal Articles Animal Cognition Year : 2022

Horses form cross-modal representations of adults and children

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Recently, research on domestic mammals' sociocognitive skills toward humans has been prolific, allowing us to better understand the human-animal relationship. For example, horses have been shown to distinguish human beings on the basis of photographs and voices and to have cross-modal mental representations of individual humans and human emotions. This leads to questions such as the extent to which horses can differentiate human attributes such as age. Here, we tested whether horses discriminate human adults from children. In a cross-modal paradigm, we presented 31 female horses with two simultaneous muted videos of a child and an adult saying the same neutral sentence, accompanied by the sound of an adult's or child's voice speaking the sentence. The horses looked significantly longer at the videos that were incongruent with the heard voice than at the congruent videos. We conclude that horses can match adults' and children's faces and voices cross-modally. Moreover, their heart rates increased during children's vocalizations but not during adults'. This suggests that in addition to having mental representations of adults and children, horses have a stronger emotional response to children's voices than adults' voices.
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hal-03751952 , version 1 (16-08-2022)



Plotine Jardat, Monamie Ringhofer, Shinya Yamamoto, Chloé Gouyet, Rachel Degrande, et al.. Horses form cross-modal representations of adults and children. Animal Cognition, 2022, ⟨10.1007/s10071-022-01667-9⟩. ⟨hal-03751952⟩
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