Thursday, January 3, 2008

No shit, Sherlock

I don’t suppose there is anyone even marginally informed about issues surrounding the welfare of monkeys in laboratories who isn’t cognizant of the causes and likely causes of the ubiquitous mental illness seen in macaques in laboratory settings. Almost all individually housed macaques exhibit signs of mental illness, and a significant portion of them mutilate themselves, or engage in what is euphemistically referred to as self-injurious behavior. (The literature used to call this self-mutilation but public relations experts have carefully modified the vocabulary of the vivisectors.)

This basic understanding of the general causes of this widespread distress makes the publication of papers like the one abstracted below particularly odious and suggests that the general level of intelligence among vivisectors is well below average.

A Rhesus Monkey Model of Self-Injury: Effects of Relocation Stress on Behavior and Neuroendocrine Function. Davenport MD, Lutz CK, Tiefenbacher S, Novak MA, Meyer JS. Biol Psychiatry. 2007 Dec 27.

Division of Behavioral Biology, New England Primate Research Center, Harvard Medical School, Southborough, Massachusetts; Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

BACKGROUND: Self-injurious behavior (SIB), a disorder that afflicts many individuals within both clinical and nonclinical populations, has been linked to states of heightened stress and arousal. However, there are no published longitudinal data on the relationship between increases in stress and changes in the incidence of SIB. This study investigated the short- and long-term behavioral and neuroendocrine responses of SIB and control monkeys to the stress of relocation. METHODS: Twenty adult male rhesus macaques were exposed to the stress of relocation to a new housing arrangement in a newly constructed facility. Daytime behavior, sleep, and multiple measures of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis function were investigated before and after the move. RESULTS: Relocation induced a complex pattern of short- and long-term effects in the animals. The SIB animals showed a long-lasting increase in self-biting behavior, as well as evidence of sleep disturbance. Both groups exhibited elevated cortisol levels in saliva, serum, and hair, and also an unexpected delayed increase in circulating concentrations of corticosteroid binding globulin (CBG). CONCLUSIONS: Our results indicate that relocation is a significant stressor for rhesus macaques and that this stressor triggers an increase in self-biting behavior as well as sleep disturbance in monkeys previously identified as suffering from SIB. These findings suggest that life stresses may similarly exacerbate SIB in humans with this disorder. The HPA axis results underscore the potential role of CBG in regulating long-term neuroendocrine responses to major stressors.

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