Cognitive testing of pigs (Sus scrofa) in translational biobehavioral research.
ABSTRACT Within neuroscience and biobehavioral research, the pig (Sus scrofus) is increasingly being acknowledged as a valuable large animal species. Compared to the rodent brain, the pig brain more closely resembles the human brain in terms of both anatomy and biochemistry, which associates the pig with a higher translational value. Several brain disorders have been fully or partially modeled in the pig and this has further spurred an interest in having access to behavioral tasks for pigs, and in particular to cognitive tasks. Cognitive testing of pigs has been conducted for several years by a small group of farm animal welfare researchers, but it has only recently received interest in the wider neuroscience community. Several behavioral tasks have successfully been adapted to the pig, and valuable results have been produced. However, most tasks have only been established at a single research facility, and would benefit from further validation. This review presents the cognitive tasks that have been developed for pigs, their validation, and their current use.