Thursday, June 12, 2008

Protests at UC animal-lab workers' homes

Protests at UC animal-lab workers' homes
Phillip Matier,Andrew Ross

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Officials have been trying to keep it quiet, but 24 UC Berkeley researchers and seven staffers have been harassed by animal rights activists in recent months, in some cases having their homes or cars vandalized.

"What they all have in common is that they all work in animal research," UC Berkeley spokesman Robert Sanders said of the targeted employees...

Even a researcher who studies bird singing has been harassed and had his house vandalized.

"To study bird songs, you need to get them into the lab," Sanders said. "You want to record them and see how they raise their young."

It's not exactly the animal torture chamber one usually associates with the most negative depictions of animal research. But "apparently, these activists don't believe in any kind of animal research," Sanders said....
The researcher studying bird song is, apparently, Frederic Theunissen. UC Berkeley spokesman Robert Sanders should either do his homework or quit lying. Here are a couple excerpts from Theunissen's published papers:
To measure the overall maturation of the lower auditory system, we obtained audiograms from auditory brain stem responses. All animal procedures were approved by the Animal Care and Use Committee at University of California Berkeley and University of California San Francisco (UCSF). [I'm reassured.]... For the experiment, the bird was placed on a bird sling inside a double-chambered sound-proof box. The bird's head was carefully taped onto the sling to prevent any movement. Free-field sounds were played from a speaker placed directly in front of the bird at 15 cm. Before each experiment, the sound delivery system was calibrated using a Ban dK microphone. Three adult males and one female (n = 4) were used for the adult data; three 20-day-old females (n = 3), two 10-day-old males, and two 10-day-old females (n = 4) were used for the juvenile data. The threshold levels for males and female birds were statistically indistinguishable in the adult or when the adult and 20-day-old data were combined...

The evoked potentials were recorded using low-impedance pin electrodes. A recording electrode was placed into the cerebellum just above the auditory brain stem. A second, differential electrode was placed in the forebrain.... (Amin N, Doupe A, Theunissen FE. Development of selectivity for natural sounds in the songbird auditory forebrain. J Neurophysiol. 2007.)
"It's not exactly the animal torture chamber..."
SUBJECTS. Two female rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) were used in these experiments. Both monkeys were trained on the task described in this study. They weighed between 8.0 and 9.0 kg. All surgical, recording, and training sessions were in accordance with the National Institutes of Health's Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals and were approved by the Dartmouth Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. Neither monkey had been operantly trained to make behavioral responses to auditory stimuli.

SURGICAL PROCEDURES. Surgical procedures were conducted under aseptic, sterile conditions, using general anesthesia (isoflurane). These procedures were performed in a dedicated surgical suite operated by the Animal Resource Center at Dartmouth College.

In the first procedure, titanium bone screws were implanted in the skull and a methylmethacrylate implant was constructed. A Teflon-insulated, 50-gauge stainless steel wire coil was also implanted between the conjunctiva and the sclera; the wire coil allowed us to monitor the monkey's eye position (Judge et al. 1980). Finally, a head-positioning cylinder (FHC-S2; Crist Instruments, Hagerstown, MD) was embedded in the implant. This cylinder connected to a primate chair and stabilized the monkey's head during behavioral-training and recording sessions.

After the monkeys learned the passive-listening task ... a craniotomy was performed and a recording cylinder (ICO-J20, Crist Instruments) was implanted. This surgical procedure provided chronic access to the vPFC for neurophysiological recordings. (Cohen YE, Theunissen F, Russ BE, Gill P. Acoustic features of rhesus vocalizations and their representation in the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex. J Neurophysiol. 2007.)
"[A]apparently, these activists don't believe in any kind of animal research."
Female choice plays a critical role in the evolution of male acoustic displays. Yet there is limited information on the neurophysiological basis of female songbirds' auditory recognition systems. To understand the neural mechanisms of how non-singing female songbirds perceive behaviorally relevant vocalizations, we recorded responses of single neurons to acoustic stimuli in two auditory forebrain regions, the caudal lateral mesopallium (CLM) and Field L, in anesthetized adult female zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata). Using various metrics of response selectivity, we found consistently higher response strengths for unfamiliar conspecific songs compared to tone pips and white noise in Field L but not in CLM. We also found that neurons in the left auditory forebrain had lower response strengths to synthetics sounds, leading to overall higher neural selectivity for song in neurons of the left hemisphere. This laterality effect is consistent with previously published behavioral data in zebra finches. Overall, our results from Field L are in parallel and from CLM are in contrast with the patterns of response selectivity reported for conspecific songs over synthetic sounds in male zebra finches, suggesting some degree of sexual dimorphism of auditory perception mechanisms in songbirds. (Hauber ME, Cassey P, Woolley SM, Theunissen FE. Neurophysiological response selectivity for conspecific songs over synthetic sounds in the auditory forebrain of non-singing female songbirds. Department of Psychology and Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute, University of California, Berkeley, USA. J Comp Physiol A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol. 2007.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

1) He killed a few birds. How many minks go into a coat?

2) He didn't do the rheasus monkey recordings, he just did some of their data analysis (you can tell this by seeing it wasn't done in his lab (last author) and that he didn't actually do the recordings (first author))

3) Aren't there bigger fish to fry? There's an entire meatpacking industry.

4) Most good cats kill more birds a year than this guy, chill out.