Auditory enrichment for arousal reduction in non-vocal learning species

Mott, Richard Owen (2023) Auditory enrichment for arousal reduction in non-vocal learning species. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

Full text available as:
[thumbnail of 2023MottPhD.pdf] PDF
Download (4MB)


Passively listening to music and other auditory enrichments has been repeatedly demonstrated to be effective at reducing physiological arousal in a wide range of non-human species. Although statistically significant arousal reduction has been demonstrated, the size of this effect in most studies is generally small. To strengthen the previously demonstrated arousal-reducing effects of auditory enrichment, the aims of this thesis are:

To understand what specific aspects of auditory enrichment have the greatest influence on arousal in dogs and horses.

To determine if dogs have the auditory perceptive abilities that justify any assumptions of musical appreciation.

To establish if a positive association with specific music can influence how that music can manipulate arousal in dogs.

Classical music with the pitch and tempo altered; music based on the owner’s voice; and a range of metronome beats where trialled. Heartrate variability was the primary measure of effect and methods of measurement were validated in both dogs and horses prior to these studies. To test perception, a two-choice go/go selection paradigm was used.

Changing the pitch or tempo of music made no difference to the arousal of dogs or horses. Bespoke music based on the owners’ voices had an equivalent effect on arousal in dogs as classical music and white noise. Limited testing of perception in dogs failed to demonstrate any ability to discriminate between different tempos, but the results of forming a positive association were suggestive of an increase in effect. An incidental finding was that auditory enrichment was more effective at reducing arousal when used in a noisy environment than when used in a quiet environment.

Auditory enrichment has been demonstrated to have an arousal-reducing effect, however, the arousal-reducing effects of auditory enrichment in non-vocal learners may be stemming from simple mechanisms such as acoustic masking and/or the formation of positive associations.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: Q Science > QP Physiology
S Agriculture > SF Animal culture > SF600 Veterinary Medicine
Colleges/Schools: College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Supervisor's Name: Evans, Professor Neil and Dowell, Dr. Fiona
Date of Award: 2023
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2023-83706
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 05 Jul 2023 11:52
Last Modified: 12 Jul 2023 08:22
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.83706
Related URLs:

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year