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Measuring heart rate variability in horses to investigate the autonomic nervous system activity - pros and cons of different methods

By D. Stucke, M. G. Ruse, D. Lebelt

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Abstract

Power spectrum analysis of heart rate variability (HRV) may provide insight into the mental state of the animal held in restricted specific experimental conditions. Determining inter-beat-interval (IBI) variations is one way to measure changes in autonomic nervous system (ANS) activity in horses. An imbalance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system can indicate pain or stress, for example, if other stimuli such as excitement or fear can be eliminated. However, the outcomes of a HRV analysis hinge on the accuracy of the IBI measurements and the analysis methods. Applied measurement techniques, analysis methods and even frequency bands for power spectrum analysis differ considerably across studies. Hence, the measurement of heart rate variability in horses is handled rather inconsistently and results from different studies are not entirely comparable. The current review presents an overview of the technical issues of HRV analyses, then discusses recent HRV measurements in horses and finally gives recommendations for standardised IBI-measurement and HRV analysis in horses.

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 166
Pages 1-10
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
Language English
Author Address Havelland Equine Clinic, Hohenferchesarer Str. 49, 14778 Beetzsee, Germany.diana.stucke@pferdeklinik-havelland.de
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Tags
  1. Analysis
  2. Animal behavior
  3. Animals
  4. Guidelines
  5. Heart
  6. Heart rate
  7. Horses
  8. Light
  9. Mammals
  10. Measurement
  11. Methodologies
  12. models
  13. nervous system
  14. Pain
  15. peer-reviewed
  16. Research
  17. Reviews
  18. Techniques
  19. ungulates
  20. vertebrates
Badges
  1. peer-reviewed