Neuroimaging in Pigs

Georg Langs, Yason Yee, Karl-Heinz Nenning

The Institute of Animal Welfare Science at the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna (Vetmeduni) is currently offering a short-term research opportunity for motivated students. The candidate should be motivated to learn computational methods for the analysis of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data of the brain in pigs.

Project background
The need to improve animal welfare attracts ever-increasing public, political, professional, and media attention worldwide. The way an animal feels (i.e. affect) is central to its well-being, and affective well-being is increasingly understood to include more than just the absence of negative states but the presence of positive ones. Though this conceptual view now dominates animal welfare science, researchers are nevertheless struggling to find ways to assess positive affect in non-human animals. Thus, a major goal of our current research program is to develop a set of research tools to better understand affective well-being in farm pigs. To do so, we are developing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the pig brain to measure both structural and functional changes that occur as a result of environmental enrichment. The student will be trained to discriminate different segments of the brain. Segmentation data will then be used to train machine learning algorithms for automated segmentation. No prior expertise is required, only a motivation to learn computational techniques that will be used to characterize differences in welfare states in pigs.

If you are interested, please send a short letter of motivation in an email with the title: “Pig MRI” to Dr. Jason Yee at