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

Finka, L.R. ORCID: 0000-0002-0053-1675, Luna, S.P., Brondani, J.T., Tzimiropoulos, Y., McDonagh, J., Farnworth, M.J. ORCID: 0000-0001-6226-0818, Ruta, M. and Mills, D.S., 2019. Geometric morphometrics for the study of facial expressions in non-human animals, using the domestic cat as an exemplar. Scientific Reports, 9: 9883. ISSN 2045-2322

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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.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Scientific Reports
Creators: Finka, L.R., Luna, S.P., Brondani, J.T., Tzimiropoulos, Y., McDonagh, J., Farnworth, M.J., Ruta, M. and Mills, D.S.
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
Date: 8 July 2019
Volume: 9
ISSN: 2045-2322
Identifiers:
NumberType
10.1038/s41598-019-46330-5DOI
46330Publisher Item Identifier
Divisions: Schools > School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences
Depositing User: Jonathan Gallacher
Date Added: 09 Jul 2019 14:57
Last Modified: 09 Jul 2019 14:57
URI: http://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/37061

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