Zapata Cardona, J., Ceballos, M. C., Tarazona Morales, A. M. et al. 2022. Music modulates emotional responses in growing pigs. Scientific Reports 12(1), 3382.

There is a lack of clarity on whether pigs can emotionally respond to musical stimulation and whether that response is related to music structure. Qualitative Behavioral Assessment (QBA) was used to evaluate effects of 16 distinct musical pieces (in terms of harmonic structure) on emotional responses in nursery pigs (n = 30) during four periods: “habituation”, “treatments”, “breaks” and “final”. Data were evaluated using Principal component analysis (PCA). Two principal components (PC) were considered in the analysis: PC1, characterized as a positive emotions index, included the emotional responses content, playful, sociable, and happy, whereas PC2, characterized as a negative emotions index, included fearful, inquisitive, and uneasy with positive loadings, and relaxed and calm with negative loadings. Musical stimulation (treatment) increased (P < 0.01) both emotional indices, compared to other periods and this response was influenced by harmonic characteristics of the music. We concluded that pigs have a wide variety of emotional responses, with different affective states related to the music structure used, providing evidence of its potential use as environmental enrichment for this species.

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