Professor Melissa Bateson
Professor of Ethology
- Email: email@example.com
- Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 5056
- Fax: +44 (0) 191 208 5622
- Personal Website: http://www.staff.ncl.ac.uk/melissa.bateson/
- Address: Centre for Behaviour and Evolution
Institute of Neuroscience
Henry Wellcome Building for Neuroecology
Newcastle upon Tyne
I studied zoology at the University of Oxford, and stayed on to complete a DPhil on risk-sensitive decisions in foraging starlings under the supervision of Alex Kacelnik. Following post-docs in Oxford and Duke University, during which I dabbled in the psychopharmacology of interval timing in collaboration with Warren Meck, in 1998 I took up a Royal Society University Research Fellowship at Newcastle University to continue my work on the mechanisms of decision-making. I have recently become interested in applying my expertise to problems in the assessment of animal welfare. I became a Lecturer in 2007.
Roles and Responsibilities
UFAW Links Officer for Newcastle University
1990: BA/MA in Zoology with Biological Anthropology (University of Oxford, first class honours)
1993 DPhil in Animal Behaviour (Department of Zoology, University of Oxford)
1998-2007 Royal Society University Research Fellow (Newcastle University).
1995-1998 Wellcome Advanced Training Fellow (University of Oxford/ Duke University).
1993-1995 Postdoctoral RA, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford.
Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour
International Society for Comparative Cognition
Area of expertise: Animal and human behaviour, cognition, emotions, telomere dynamics, Applications to antisocial behaviour, overeating and obesity and animal welfare.
Google Scholar: Click here.
Life is filled with choices: a hungry starling has to decide which field to foraging in, a peahen has to choose between various magnificent peacocks displaying to her and we have to choose which brands to buy every time we go to the supermarket. I am interested in how both animals and humans make decisions between alternative options. My research lies at the intersection of classical ethology and cognitive psychology. As an ethologist I am seeking to understand both the functions and underlying mechanisms of decision making. The study of function involves thinking about how natural selectin has shaped decisions, whereas the study of mechanism involves trying to unravel the cognitive, and perhaps ultimately the neural mehcanisms underlying the information processing involved in decision making.
Rather than adopting a single theoretical framework, my research draws on models from a range of different disciplines including behavioural ecology, cognitive psychology, economics and marketing. I am particularly intrigued by the potential for fruitful exchange of ideas between the human and animal behaviour literatures. My research is characterised by carefully controlled experiments designed to distinguish between alternative models to explain observed behavioural phenomena.
The main animal models that I have worked with are European starlings foraging for food in the lab (in collaboration with Alex Kacelnik and latterly Candy Rowe), wild rufous hummingbirds foraging on artificial flowers in the field (with Sue Healy and Andy Hurly). In humans I have studied judgments of female physical attractiveness (with Piers Cornelissen and Martin Tovee) and the honesty of my colleagues when paying for their coffee (with Daniel Nettle and Gilbert Roberts).
In recent years I have become particularly interested in applying my expertise in animal decision making to the challenging problem of measuring animal welfare.
Validation and refinement of cognitive bias-based techniques for assessment of affective state in European starlings (with Dr Ben Brilot).
Stereotypy and perseveration in captive European starlings: consequences for decision making. (with Dr Gesa Feenders)
Is human anxiety domain-specific? (with Dr Daniel Nettle)
Refining research procedures by assessing distress in laboratory rodents. (With Prof P. Flecknell and Claire Richardson)
Does pre-operative affective state influence the severity and duration of post-op pain in laboratory rats? (with Prof P. Flecknell and Dr Matt Leach).
My current work is supported by the BBSRC, The Universities' Federation for Animal Welfare (UFAW) and The British Academy. In the past I have been funded by the Royal Society.
Visit my ResearcherID on Web of Science:
Operant techniques with animals (especially birds).
Victoria Hurst (PhD) current
Claire Richardson (PhD) current
Stephanie Matheson (MPhil) 2008
Lucy Asher (PhD) 2007
Craig Barnett (PhD) 2007
Ellen Vale (PhD) 2002
Royal Society University Research Fellow 1998-2007
Core Member of BBSRC Research Committee A 2011-
- PSY2006 Psychology: Language and Thought (Module leader)
- PSY3097/3096 Psychology: Experimental project (Supervisor)
Postgraduate Teaching (MRes)
- NEU8002: Cognitive Neuroscience (Contributor)
- MMB8026: Experimental Design for in vivo research (Module leader)
- Andrews C, Nettle D, Reichert S, Bedford T, Monaghan P, Bateson M. A marker of biological ageing predicts adult risk preference in European starlings, Sturnus vulgaris. Behavioral Ecology 2018, epub ahead of print.
- van Berkel M, Bateson M, Nettle D, Dunn J. Can starlings use a reliable cue of future food deprivation to adaptively modify foraging and fat reserves?. Animal Behaviour 2018, 142, 147-155.
- Dunn J, Andrews C, Nettle D, Bateson M. Early-life begging effort reduces adult body mass but strengthens behavioural defence of the rate of energy intake in European starlings. Royal Society Open Science 2018, 5, 171918.
- Bateson M, Nettle D. Why are there associations between telomere length and behaviour?. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 2018, 373, 20160438.
- Andrews C, Nettle D, Larriva M, Gillespie R, Reichert S, Brilot BO, Bedford T, Monaghan P, Spencer KA, Bateson M. A marker of biological age explains individual variation in the strength of the adult stress response. Royal Society Open Science 2017, 4, 171208.
- Nettle D, Andrews C, Bateson M. Adaptive principles of weight regulation: Insufficient, but perhaps necessary, for understanding obesity. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 2017, 40, e131.
- Nettle D, Bateson M. Childhood and adult socioeconomic position interact to predict health in mid life in a cohort of British women. PeerJ 2017, 5, e3528.
- Nettle D, Bateson M. Detecting telomere elongation in longitudinal datasets: Analysis of a proposal by Simons, Stulp and Nakagawa. PeerJ 2017, 2017(4), e3265.
- Neville V, Andrews C, Nettle D, Bateson M. Dissociating the effects of alternative early-life feeding schedules on the development of adult depression-like phenotypes. Scientific Reports 2017, 7, 14823.
- Henry S, Fureix C, Rowberry R, Bateson M, Hausberger M. Do horses with poor welfare show 'pessimistic' cognitive biases?. The Science of Nature 2017, 104(1-2), 8.
- Nettle D, Andrews C, Reichert S, Bedford T, Kolenda C, Parker C, Martin-Ruiz C, Monaghan P, Bateson M. Early-life adversity accelerates cellular ageing and affects adult inflammation: Experimental evidence from the European starling. Scientific Reports 2017, 7, 40794.
- Bedford T, Oliver CJ, Andrews C, Bateson M, Nettle D. Effects of early-life adversity and sex on dominance in European starlings. Animal Behaviour 2017, 128, 51-60.
- Iyasere OS, Beard AP, Guy JH, Bateson M. Elevated levels of the stress hormone, corticosterone, cause ‘pessimistic’ judgment bias in broiler chickens. Scientific Reports 2017, 7, 6860.
- Nettle D, Andrews C, Bateson M. Food insecurity as a driver of obesity in humans: The insurance hypothesis. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 2017, 40, e105.
- Robertson BA, Rathbone L, Cirillo G, D'Eath RB, Bateson M, Boswell T, Wilson PW, Dunn IC, Smulders TV. Food restriction reduces neurogenesis in the avian hippocampal formation. PLoS ONE 2017, 12(12), e0189158.
- Poirier C, Bateson M. Pacing stereotypies in laboratory rhesus macaques: Implications for animal welfare and the validity of neuroscientific findings. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews 2017, 83, 508-515.
- Bateson M, Nettle D. The telomere lengthening conundrum – it could be biology. Aging Cell 2017, 16(2), 312-319.
- Iyasere OS, Edwards SA, Bateson M, Mitchell M, Guy JH. Validation of an intramuscularly-implanted microchip and a surface infrared thermometer to estimate core body temperature in broiler chickens exposed to heat stress. Computers and Electronics in Agriculture 2017, 133, 1-8.
- Lee C, Verbeek E, Doyle R, Bateson M. Attention bias to threat indicates anxiety differences in sheep. Biology Letters 2016, 12(6).
- Nettle D, Andrews C, Reichert S, Bedford T, Gott A, Parker C, Kolenda C, Martin-Ruiz C, Monaghan P, Bateson M. Brood size moderates associations between relative size, telomere length, and immune development in European starling nestlings. Ecology and Evolution 2016, 6(22), 8138-8148.
- Bateson M. Cumulative stress in research animals: Telomere attrition as a biomarker in a welfare context?. BioEssays 2016, 38(2), 201-212.
- Bateson M. Optimistic and pessimistic biases: a primer for behavioural ecologists. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences 2016, 12, 115-121.
- Nettle D, Bateson M. Adaptive developmental plasticity: what is it, how can we recognize it and when can it evolve?. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences 2015, 282(1812), 23-31.
- Nettle D, Monaghan P, Gillespie R, Brilot B, Bedford T, Bateson M. An experimental demonstration that early-life competitive disadvantage accelerates telomere loss. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 2015, 282, 20141610.
- Bateson M, Nettle D. Development of a cognitive bias methodology for measuring low mood in chimpanzees. PEERJ 2015, 3, e998.
- Nettle D, Andrews CP, Monaghan P, Brilot BO, Bedford T, Gillespie R, Bateson M. Developmental and familial predictors of adult cognitive traits in the European starling. Animal Behaviour 2015, 107, 239-248.
- Bateson M, Brilot BO, Gillespie R, Monaghan P, Nettle D. Developmental telomere attrition predicts impulsive decision-making in adult starlings. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 2015, 282(1799), 20142140.
- Andrews C, Viviani J, Egan E, Bedford T, Brilot B, Nettle D, Bateson M. Early life adversity increases foraging and information gathering in European starlings, Sturnus vulgaris. Animal Behaviour 2015, 109, 123-132.
- O'Hagan D, Andrews CP, Bedford T, Bateson M, Nettle D. Early life disadvantage strengthens flight performance trade-offs in European starlings, Sturnus vulgaris. Animal Behaviour 2015, 102, 141-148.
- Hills TT, Todd PM, Lazer D, Redish AD, Couzin ID, Bateson M, Cools R, Dukas R, Giraldeau L-A, Macy MW, Page SE, Shiffrin RM, Stephens DW, Wolfe JW. Exploration versus exploitation in space, mind, and society. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 2015, 19(1), 46-54.
- Bateson M. Melissa Bateson. Current Biology 2015, 25(14), R591-R593.
- Bateson M, Emmerson M, Ergün G, Monaghan P, Nettle D. Opposite Effects of Early-Life Competition and Developmental Telomere Attrition on Cognitive Biases in Juvenile European Starlings. PLoS ONE 2015, 10(7), e0132602.
- Bateson M, Robinson R, Abayomi-Cole T, Greenlees J, O'Connor A, Nettle D. Watching eyes on potential litter can reduce littering: evidence from two field experiments. PeerJ 2015, 3, e1443.
- Barnett CA, Bateson M, Rowe C. Better the devil you know: Avian predators find variation in prey toxicity aversive. Biology Letters 2014, 10(11), 1-4.
- Fathi M, Bateson M, Nettle D. Effects of Watching Eyes and Norm Cues on Charitable Giving in a Surreptitious Behavioral Experiment. Evolutionary Psychology 2014, 12(5), 878-887.
- Bateson M, Tovée MJ, George HR, Gouws A, Cornelissen PL. Humans are not fooled by size illusions in attractiveness judgements. Evolution & Human Behavior 2014, 35(2), 133-139.
- Dixon LM, Brocklehurst S, Sandilands V, Bateson M, Tolkamp BJ, D'Eath RB. Measuring Motivation for Appetitive Behaviour: Food-Restricted Broiler Breeder Chickens Cross a Water Barrier to Forage in an Area of Wood Shavings without Food. PLoS ONE 2014, 9(7), e102322.
- Bateson M. Of (stressed) mice and men. Nature Methods 2014, 11(6), 623-624.
- Bloxham L, Bateson M, Bedford T, Brilot B, Nettle D. The memory of hunger: developmental plasticity of dietary selectivity in the European starling, Sturnus vulgaris. Animal Behaviour 2014, 91, 33-40.
- Hunter JE, Butterworth J, Perkins ND, Bateson M, Richardson CA. Using body temperature, food and water consumption as biomarkers of disease progression in mice with Eμ-myc lymphoma. British Journal of Cancer 2014, 110, 928-934.
- Nettle D, Monaghan P, Boner W, Gillespie R, Bateson M. Bottom of the Heap: Having Heavier Competitors Accelerates Early-Life Telomere Loss in the European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris. PLoS One 2013, 8(12), e83617.
- Eens M, Jaspers VLB, Van den Steen E, Bateson M, Carere C, Clergeau P, Costantini D, Dolenec Z, Elliott JE, Flux J, Gwinner H, Halbrook RS, Heeb P, Mazgajski TD, Moksnes A, Polo V, Soler JJ, Sinclair R, Veiga JP, Williams TD, Covaci A, Pinxten R. Can starling eggs be useful as a biomonitoring tool to study organohalogenated contaminants on a worldwide scale?. Environment International 2013, 51, 141-149.
- Dixon LM, Sandilands V, Bateson M, Brocklehurst S, Tolkamp BJ, D'Eath RB. Conditioned place preference or aversion as animal welfare assessment tools: Limitations in their application. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 2013, 148(1-2), 164-176.
- Bateson M, Callow L, Holmes JR, Roche MLR, Nettle D. Do Images of 'Watching Eyes' Induce Behaviour That Is More Pro-Social or More Normative? A Field Experiment on Littering. PLoS ONE 2013, 8(12), e82055.
- Jayne K, Feenders G, Bateson M. Effects of developmental history on the behavioural responses of European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) to laboratory husbandry. Animal Welfare 2013, 22(1), 67-78.
- Feenders G, Bateson M. Hand rearing affects emotional responses but not basic cognitive performance in European starlings. Animal Behaviour 2013, 86(1), 127-138.
- Nettle D, Cronin KA, Bateson M. Responses of chimpanzees to cues of conspecific observation. Animal Behaviour 2013, 86(3), 595-602.
- Nettle D, Harper Z, Kidson A, Stone R, Penton-Voak IS, Bateson M. The watching eyes effect in the Dictator Game: it's not how much you give, it's being seen to give something. Evolution and Human Behavior 2013, 34(1), 35-40.
- Morgan KV, Hurly TA, Bateson M, Asher L, Healy SD. Context-dependent decisions among options varying in a single dimension. Behavioural Processes 2012, 89(2), 115-120.
- Nettle D, Nott K, Bateson M. 'Cycle Thieves, We Are Watching You': Impact of a Simple Signage Intervention against Bicycle Theft. PLoS One 2012, 7(12), e51738.
- Barnett CA, Skelhorn J, Bateson M, Rowe C. Educated predators make strategic decisions to eat defended prey according to their toxin content. Behavioral Ecology 2012, 23(2), 418-424.
- Douglas C, Bateson M, Walsh C, Bédué A, Edwards SA. Environmental enrichment induces optimistic cognitive biases in pigs. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 2012, 139(1-2), 65-73.
- Feenders G, Bateson M. The development of stereotypic behavior in caged european starlings, Sturnus vulgaris. Developmental Psychobiology 2012, 54(8), 773-784.
- Nettle D, Bateson M. The Evolutionary Origins of Mood and Its Disorders. Current Biology 2012, 22(17), R712-R721.
- Brilot BO, Bateson M. Water bathing alters threat perception in starlings. Biology Letters 2012, 8(3), 379-381.
- Brilot BO, Nettle D, Whittingham MJ, Bateson M, Read JCA. When is general wariness favored in avoiding multiple predators?. The American Naturalist 2012, 179(6), E180-E195.
- Flecknell P, Leach M, Bateson M. Affective state and quality of life in mice. Pain 2011, 152(5), 963-964.
- Bateson M, Desire S, Gartside SE, Wright GA. Agitated honeybees exhibit pessimistic cognitive biases. Current Biology 2011, 21(12), 1070-1073.
- Bateson M, Brilot B, Nettle D. Anxiety: An Evolutionary Approach. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry 2011, 56(12), 707-715.
- Salmeto AL, Hymel KA, Carpenter EC, Brilot BO, Bateson M, Sufka KJ. Cognitive bias in the chick anxiety-depression model. Brain Research 2011, 1373, 124-130.
- Ernest-Jones M, Nettle D, Bateson M. Effects of eye images on everyday cooperative behavior: a field experiment. Evolution and Human Behavior 2011, 32(3), 172-178.
- Brydges NM, Leach M, Nicol K, Wright R, Bateson M. Environmental enrichment induces optimistic cognitive bias in rats. Animal Behaviour 2011, 81(1), 169-175.
- Feenders G, Klaus K, Bateson M. Fear and Exploration in European Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris): A Comparison of Hand-Reared and Wild-Caught Birds. PLoS ONE 2011, 6(4), e19074.
- Feenders G, Bateson M. Hand-Rearing Reduces Fear of Humans in European Starlings, Sturnus vulgaris. PLoS ONE 2011, 6(2), e17466.
- Bateson M. Rational choice behaviour: definitions and evidence. In: Breed, MD; Moore, J, ed. Encyclopedia of Animal Behaviour. Oxford: Elsevier Science, 2010, pp.13-19.
- Brilot BO, Asher L, Bateson M. Stereotyping starlings are more 'pessimistic'. Animal Cognition 2010, 13(5), 721-731.
- Bateson M, Asher L. The European starling. In: Hubrecht, R & Kirkwood, J, ed. The UFAW Handbook on The Care and Management of Laboratory and Other Research Animals. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010, pp.697-705.
- Bateson M, Feenders G. The Use of Passerine Bird Species in Laboratory Research: Implications of Basic Biology for Husbandry and Welfare. ILAR Journal 2010, 51(4), 394-408.
- Asher L, Kirkden RD, Bateson M. An empirical investigation of two assumptions of motivation testing in captive starlings (Sturnus vulgaris): Do animals have an energy budget to 'spend'? and does cost reduce demand?. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 2009, 118(3-4), 152-160.
- Brilot BO, Normandale CL, Parkin A, Bateson M. Can we use starlings' aversion to eyespots as the basis for a novel 'cognitive bias' task?. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 2009, 118(3-4), 182-190.
- Cornelissen PL, Tovee MJ, Bateson M. Patterns of subcutaneous fat deposition and the relationship between body mass index and waist-to-hip ratio: Implications for models of physical attractiveness. Journal of Theoretical Biology 2009, 256(3), 343-350.
- Brilot BO, Asher L, Feenders G, Bateson M. Quantification of abnormal repetitive behaviour in captive European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris). Behavioural Processes 2009, 82(3), 256-264.
- Asher L, Davies TTO, Bertenshaw C, Cox MAA, Bateson M. The effects of cage volume and cage shape on the condition and behaviour of captive European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris). Applied Animal Behaviour Science 2009, 116(2-4), 286-294.
- Brilot BO, Asher L, Bateson M. Water bathing alters the speed-accuracy trade-off of escape flights in European starlings. Animal Behaviour 2009, 78(4), 801-807.
- Matheson SM, Asher L, Bateson M. Larger, enriched cages are associated with 'optimistic' response biases in captive European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris). Applied Animal Behaviour Science 2008, 109(2-4), 374-383.
- Asher L, Bateson M. Use and husbandry of captive European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) in scientific research: A review of current practice. Laboratory Animals 2008, 42(2), 111-126.
- Smith KL, Tovee MJ, Hancock PJB, Bateson M, Cox MAA, Cornelissen PL. An analysis of body shape attractiveness based on image statistics: Evidence for a dissociation between expressions of preference and shape discrimination. Visual Cognition 2007, 15(8), 927-953.
- Bateson M, Cornelissen PL, Tovée MJ. Methodological issues in judgements of female body Attractiveness. In: Furnham, A; Swami, V, ed. The Body Beautiful: Evolutionary and Socio-cultural Perspectives. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007, pp.46-62.
- Bateson M, Matheson S. Performance on a categorisation task suggests that removal of environmental enrichment induces 'pessimism' in captive European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris). Animal Welfare 2007, 16(supplement 1), 33-36.
- Barnett CA, Bateson M, Rowe C. State-dependent decision making: educated predators strategically trade off the costs and benefits of consuming aposematic prey. Behavioral Ecology 2007, 18(4), 645-651.
- Bateson M, Nettle D, Roberts G. Cues of being watched enhance cooperation in a real-world setting. Biology Letters 2006, 2(3), 412-414.
- Matell MS, Bateson M, Meck WH. Single-trials analyses demonstrate that increases in clock speed contribute to the methamphetamine-induced horizontal shifts in peak-interval timing functions. Psychopharmacology 2006, 188(2), 201-212.
- Henderson J, Hurly TA, Bateson M, Healy SD. Timing in free-living rufous hummingbirds, Selasphorus rufus. Current Biology 2006, 16(5), 512-515.
- Bateson M, Healy SD. Comparative evaluation and its implications for mate choice. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 2005, 20(12), 659-664.
- Bateson M. Mechanisms of decision-making and the interpretation of choice tests. Animal Welfare 2004, 13(supplement 1), S115-S120.
- Bateson M, Healy SD, Hurly TA. Context-dependent foraging decisions in rufous hummingbirds. Proceedings of The Royal Society of London Series B-Biological Sciences 2003, 270(1521), 1271-1276.
- Bateson M. Context-dependent foraging choices in risk-sensitive starlings. Animal Behaviour 2002, 64(2), 251-260.
- Bateson M, Healy SD, Hurly TA. Irrational choices in hummingbird foraging behaviour. Animal Behaviour 2002, 63(3), 587-596.
- Bateson P, Bateson M. Post-weaning feeding problems in young domestic cats - A new hypothesis. The Veterinary Journal 2002, 163(2), 113-114.
- Bateson M. Recent advances in our understanding of risk-sensitive foraging preferences. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 2002, 61(4), 509-516.
- Baragiotta AM, Craig W, James O, Mitchison H, Burke D, Bateson M, Trewby P, Macklon A. Autoimmune hepatitis (AIH), in men. In: Journal of Hepatology. 2001, Elsevier BV.
- Baragiotta M, Craig W, James O, Mitchison H, Burke D, Bateson M, Trewby P, Bassendine M. Is the revised international autoimmune hepatitis group (IAHG) scoring system useful?. In: Journal of Hepatology. 2001, Elsevier BV.
- Baragiotta AM, Craig WL, James OFW, Mitchison HC, Burke DA, Bateson M, Trewby PN, Macklon AF, Bassendine MF, N England Autoimmune Liver Dis Grp. Validation of the revised International Autoimmune Hepatitis Group (IAHG) scoring system: Experience in the north of England. In: British Society of Gastroenterology Annual Meeting. 2001, Glasgow, UK: BMJ Group.
- Bean D, Mason GJ, Bateson M. Contrafreeloading in starlings: Testing the information hypothesis. Behaviour 1999, 136(10), 1267-1282.