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Boredom: Symptoms and Relief

Boredom is an unpleasant emotion experienced through forced inactivity or through an activity perceived as monotonous or underwhelming. Chronic boredom is experienced by people as extraordinarily distressing and agonizing and can lead to cognitive impairment, depression, and apathy. Expectability, monotony, and constraint are considered key criteria for the development of boredom. Although postulated for human boredom, these factors epitomize the typical life of laboratory animals. In fact, there is preliminary evidence that laboratory animals experience boredom and that it has a significant impact on animal well-being. Housing conditions lacking stimuli could promote the development of behavioral disorders and cause pathological changes in the central nervous system. Experimental animals kept in an enriched environment show increased well-being compared to animals kept in standard cages. On a physiological level, brain stimulation by enriched environment causes increased formation of new synapses, more complex branching of neural processes, and increased new neuronal cell formation (neurogenesis).

The Bf3R investigates influence of chronic monotony and boredom on psychoemotional behavior and cognition

In this project, the influence of chronic monotony and boredom on psychoemotional behavior, cognition and thus on the welfare of laboratory animals is investigated. As physiological and structural correlates, the stress response of the animals and changes in the brain and immune system are analyzed. From this, insights are gained into the influence of chronic boredom on the welfare of laboratory animals and which strategies can effectively reduce boredom symptoms. The evaluation of these strategies is carried out from the animals' point of view. They decide for themselves in preference tests and are examined in cognitive bias tests with regard to their valence of future expectation. This results in criteria for the scientifically sound generation of husbandry recommendations, which can be used in future animal experiments when weighing up different alternative methods.

Bild zur Langeweile: Symptomatik und Linderung 

Further literature:

Summary of the topic in German: Lewejohann, L.: Enrichment für Versuchstiere. LBH: 10. Leipziger Tierärztekongress – Tagungsband 1, 2020, Seite 452-454.

Mieske, P., Hobbiesiefken, U., Fischer-Tenhagen, C., Heinl, C., Hohlbaum, K., Kahnau, P., Meier, J., Wilzopolski, J., Butzke, D., Rudeck, J., Lewejohann, L. & Diederich, K. (2022). Bored at home?—A systematic review on the effect of environmental enrichment on the welfare of laboratory rats and mice, Frontiers in Veterinary Science, 9.

Hobbiesiefken, U., Mieske, P., Lewejohann, L. & Diederich, K. (2021). Evaluation of different types of enrichment their usage and effect on home cage behavior in female mice. PLoS ONE, 16 (12), e0261876.

Mieske, P., Diederich, K. & Lewejohann, L. (2021). Roaming in a Land of Milk and Honey: Life Trajectories and Metabolic Rate of Female Inbred Mice Living in a Semi Naturalistic Environment. animals, 11 (10), 3002.



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