Sunday, May 4, 2008

Jack Gallant's reporting

A brief blurb showed up at Indybay, a San Francisco Bay Area indymedia website, reporting that activists had protested at UC, Berkeley primate vivisector Jack Gallant's home on May 1. Here's the post:

May 1 UC Berkeley primate vivisector Jack Gallant home demonstration reportback
by ---
Friday May 2nd, 2008 2:59 PM

The campaign against UC Berkeley vivisection continues

Thursday May 1, activists demonstrated outside the lavish home of UC Berkeley primate vivisector Jack Gallant in the hills near the Oakland/Berkeley line.

Gallant's research is especially frivolous and cruel. The macaque monkeys victimized by Gallant are confined to restraint chairs and denied the most basic freedom of movement. They are denied water. These sentient beings have holes drilled in their skulls and electrodes inserted into their brains. These animals suffer because of Gallant's greed.

This campaign continues on. No matter how many laws they are able to push through. No matter how many activists they try to jail.
A common claim by industry spokespersons is that vivisectors and the universities providing them a sheltered workplace are not really secretive about their work (in spite of extensive redactions in documents surrendered as the result of lawsuit or records request) because they publish in publicly-accessible journals for all interested parties to review. I wondered about Gallant's own description of his procedures, so I looked up Gallant's work at PubMed.

His most recent paper reporting on his experiments on monkeys, freely available to the public, is Spectral receptive field properties explain shape selectivity in area V4. J Neurophysiol. (2006.) If you follow the link to the paper, you can read under Material and Methods:
SUBJECTS AND PHYSIOLOGICAL PROCEDURES. Data were collected from four adult male macaques (Macaca mulatta; two animals used in V4 recordings and two in V1 recordings). All procedures were in accordance with National Institutes of Health and U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines and were approved by University oversight committees. Details of neurophysiological procedures were previously published (V4: Hayden and Gallant 2005; V1: Vinje and Gallant 2002).
Hayden and Gallant 2005, isn't available online, but Vinje and Gallant 2002 is.

Vinje WE and Gallant JL. Natural stimulation of the non-classical receptive field increases information transmission efficiency in V1. J Neurosci. 2002. Materials and Methods:
Subjects and physiological procedures. All animal procedures were approved by oversight committees at the University of Washington (St. Louis, MO) and the University of California at Berkeley and conformed to or exceeded all relevant National Institutes of Health and United States Department of Agriculture standards. Surgical procedures were conducted under appropriate anesthesia using standard sterile techniques (Connor et al., 1997).
Following the trail: Connor CE, Preddie DC, Gallant JL, Van Essen DC. Spatial attention effects in macaque area V4. J Neurosci. 1997. Materials and Methods:
General. All surgical, training, and neurophysiological recording procedures conformed to National Institutes of Health and USDA guidelines and were carried out under an institutionally approved animal protocol using methods described previously (Knierim and Van Essen, 1992), except as noted below.
You should read this section, but it still doesn't describe what was actually done to the monkeys.

Following the trail: Knierim JJ, Van Essen DC. Neuronal responses to static texture patterns in area V1 of the alert macaque monkey. J Neurophysiol (1992). METHODS:
Subjects and training

Two juvenile macaques (Macaca fascicularis) were used in these experiments. Monkey 87A was a female, ~2-3 yr old at the start of training, weighing m 3 kg. Monkey 89C was a male, ~2-3yr old at the start of training, weighing ~3.5 kg. The monkeys were on a controlled water schedule in which they worked for their daily ration of fluid (apple juice or Tang) in their training or recording sessions. Supplemental water was given when appropriate to keep the monkeys in good health. The monkeys’ physical condition was monitored by daily checks on skin condition, appetite, feces, and overall appearance. After the conclusion of these experiments, the animals were used for acute recording sessions in other experiments, after which they were given a lethal injection of pentobarbital sodium and perfused for subsequent histological analysis....

Surgical procedures

Surgeries were performed with the use of procedures described in detail elsewhere (Felleman and Van Essen 1987; Maunsell and Van Essen 1983), with the following modifications....
Felleman and Van Essen isn't catalogued in PubMed, but the other paper is: J. H. Maunsell and D. C. Van Essen. Functional properties of neurons in middle temporal visual area of the macaque monkey. I. Selectivity for stimulus direction, speed, and orientation J Neurophysiol, May 1983. Unfortunately, this paper isn't freely available. Access is available to subscribers of the journal or for a fee.

J. H. Maunsell and D. C. Van Essen published another paper in 1983 that is freely available: Maunsell JH, van Essen DC. The connections of the middle temporal visual area (MT) and their relationship to a cortical hierarchy in the macaque monkey. J Neurosci. 1983. But this paper doesn't describe the surgical methods or treatment or the monkeys. It does however, reference another paper by the authors: Maunsell, J. H. R., and D. C. Van Essen (1982) The connections of the middle temporal visual area in the macaque monkey. Soc. Neurosci. But this paper isn't catalogued in PubMed either.

So here, the trail ends. We still don't know with much detail what is actually being done to the animals in Gallant's studies. It is clear that they are being chaired, electrodes stuck into their brains, fluid deprived, and must do meaningless tasks for a drop of water or Tang, apparently.

What is also apparent is that when vivisectors write that the procedures and techniques they are using were previously described elsewhere, and gloss over the gruesome details in "publicly-accessible" journals, it is just a shell game. Few people probably take the time to look at those citations. If they did, they'd find, like I did here, that those papers themselves say that the procedures they are using were previously described elsewhere, which, in turn, say the very same thing.

This is just another example of the hollow crap that passes for meaningful science and honest reporting in the very dark world of primate vivisection.

Illustration by Barbara Martil
In the experiments, the macaque monkeys were placed in a specially designed ?high chair? in front of a computer-controlled display screen. They are trained to respond to visual signals that instruct them to look or not look at targets that appear on the screen. When they follow instructions properly they are rewarded with squirts of juice. During the sessions the macaques? eye movements are tracked and the activity in different parts of their brains are monitored. From

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