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Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences 284: paper 2017 1883. (2017)

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DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2017.1883

Anna Kis1, Anna Gergely1, Ágoston Galambos1,2, Judit Abdai3, Ferenc Gombos4, Róbert Bódizs5,6, József Topál7

1Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest

2Department of Cognitive Psychology, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest

3Department of Ethology, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest

4Department of General Psychology, Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Budapest

5Institute of Behavioural Sciences, Semmelweis University Budapest

6National Institute of Clinical Neuroscience, Budapest

7Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest



The effects of emotionally valenced events on sleep physiology are well studied in humans and laboratory rodents. However, little is known about these effects in other species, despite the fact that several sleep characteristics differ across species and thus limit the generalizability of such findings. Here we studied the effect of positive and negative social experiences on sleep macrostructure in dogs, a species proven to be a good model of human social cognition. A non-invasive polysomnography method was used to collect data from pet dogs (n = 16) participating in 3-hour-long sleep occasions. Before sleep, dogs were exposed to emotionally positive or negative social interactions (PSI or NSI) in a within-subject design. PSI consisted of petting and ball play, while NSI was a mixture of separation, threatening approach and still face test. Sleep macrostructure was markedly different between pre-treatment conditions, with a shorter sleep latency after NSI and a redistribution of the time spent in the different sleep stages. Dogs’ behaviour during pre-treatments was related to the macrostructural difference between the two occasions, and was further modulated by individual variability in personality. This result provides the first direct evidence that emotional stimuli affect subsequent sleep physiology in dogs.

Keywords: polysomnography, dog, stress, REM sleep

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