Marr, I., Farmer, K., & Krueger, K. (2018). Evidence for Right-Sided Horses Being More Optimistic than Left-Sided Horses. Animals, 8(12), 219.
Abstract: An individual's positive or negative perspective when judging an ambiguous stimulus (cognitive bias) can be helpful when assessing animal welfare. Emotionality, as expressed in approach or withdrawal behaviour, is linked to brain asymmetry. The predisposition to process information in the left or right brain hemisphere is displayed in motor laterality. The quality of the information being processed is indicated by the sensory laterality. Consequently, it would be quicker and more repeatable to use motor or sensory laterality to evaluate cognitive bias than to perform the conventional judgment bias test. Therefore, the relationship between cognitive bias and motor or sensory laterality was tested. The horses (n = 17) were trained in a discrimination task involving a box that was placed in either a “positive” or “negative” location. To test for cognitive bias, the box was then placed in the middle, between the trained positive and negative location, in an ambiguous location, and the latency to approach the box was evaluated. Results indicated that horses that were more likely to use the right forelimb when moving off from a standing position were more likely to approach the ambiguous box with a shorter latency (generalized linear mixed model, p < 0.01), and therefore displayed a positive cognitive bias (optimistic).