Jennifer Wathan
Visiting Researcher (Psychology)

Research

I am interested in the evolution of communication and cognition, and what we can learn by using a comparative approach.  In particular, I am interested in how communication and cognition may have been shaped by social pressures, and the neural representations of these abilities.    

For my DPhil, I am working with my supervisor, Dr. Karen McComb, to investigate the social sensitivity of horses.  We are taking this research forward in three main directions:
(1) The evolution of facial expressions and the use of facial expressions by horses.
(2) The sensitivity of horses to cues of attention.
(3) The sensitivity of horses to cues of emotion.

We are developing this work using a variety of experimental and observational paradigms, including the application of the Facial Action Coding System (Ekman, Friesen, & Hager, 2002) to horses (EquiFACS).  I have recently been awarded a Sussex Alumni Travel Grant (£1000) to collaborate with Dr. Anne Burrows and Dr. Bridget Waller to support this work.