Mélissa Sébilleau


Curriculum Vitae

Mélissa Sébilleau completed a Bachelor in Life Science (Equine Science) at the University of Limerick (Ireland) in 2015. Along this degree, she participated into two research projects: one looking at attention characteristics of horses (Equus caballus) using both ethological and neurological approaches (Drs. Hausberger, Henry and Cousillas; UMR 6552 – EthoS, University of Rennes 1, France) and the other, as part of her bachelor thesis, looking at the influence of food reward palatability on operant conditioning in horses (Dr. Younge; Department of Biological Sciences, University of Limerick, Ireland).

After the completion of her BSc, she specialized in behavioural sciences with a two-years Master degree in Animal and Human Behaviour at the University of Rennes 1 (France) which also allowed her to conduct two research projects. She first worked on the sound perception of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) with Drs. Lemasson and Hausberger (UMR6552 – EthoS, University of Rennes 1, France) and then conducted a study on the acoustical coding of individual characteristics in the long distance calls of stallions (Equus caballus), also under the supervision of Drs. Lemasson and Hausberger.

She started a PhD at the Messerli Research Institute in October 2017, looking at vocal and movement imitation in kea and budgerigars.


Main Fields of Research

Evolution of cognition

Imitative learning

Vocal communication

Social cognition


Research Projects

  • Mélissa’s current PhD project, part of the DK program “Cognition and Communication”, is supervised by Univ.-Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Huber, Univ.-Prof. Fitch (Department of Cognitive Biology, University of Vienna) and Dr. Stöger-Horwath (Department of Cognitive Biology, University of Vienna). It aims to study the ability for imitation and imitation function in the kea, an endangered and phylogenetically ancient parrot species, and to compare these abilities to that of a “true parrot” species, the budgerigar, in order to get an insight on the evolution of imitation in parrots.



Rochais, C., Sébilleau, M., Menoret, M., Oger, M., Henry, S., Hausberger, M., Cousillas, H., 2018. Attentional state and brain processes: State-dependent lateralization of EEG profiles in horses. Scientific Reports 8, 1–7. doi:10.1038/s41598-018-28334-9

Lima, A., Sébilleau, M., Boye, M., Durand, C., Hausberger, M., Lemasson, A., 2018. Captive bottlenose dolphins do discriminate human-made sounds both underwater and in the air. Frontiers in Psychology 9, 1–8. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00055

Rochais, C., Sébilleau, M., Houdebine, M., Bec, P., Hausberger, M., Henry, S., 2017. A novel test for evaluating horses’ spontaneous visual attention is predictive of attention in operant learning tasks. Die Naturwissenschaften 104, 61. doi:10.1007/s00114-017-1480-6


Melissa Sebilleau MSc.
E-Mail to Melissa Sebilleau