Saturday, August 15, 2009

Gene Sackett

The effect of experience on the development of tactual-visual transfer in pigtailed macaque monkeys. Batterson VG, Rose SA, Yonas A, Grant KS, Sackett GP. Department of Comparative Medicine, Center on Human Development and Disability, Washington National Primate Research Center, University of Washington, WA, USA. Dev Psychobiol. 2008:
The study described here is the first to experimentally demonstrate the effects of experience on the development of tactual-visual transfer. Infant pigtailed macaque monkeys (Macaca nemestrina) were reared from birth to 2 months of age in special cages that allowed the separation of tactual and visual experience. When assessed on a battery of measures at the end of the 2-month period, animals reared without the opportunity to integrate information across the two sensory modalities performed at chance levels on a paired-comparison measure of tactual-visual transfer and performed worse than controls in a visually guided reaching task. (My emphasis.)
No it's not (as if it would have been less meaningless if it had been.) Consider this:
Infant macaques were reared from birth in an apparatus which precluded sight of their body parts. At 35 days postpartum one hand was exposed to view. Visual fixation of this hand was insistent and prolonged; visually guided reaching was poor, but it improved during ten succeeding hours of exposure. Little concomitant improvement occurred in the reaching of the unexposed hand. Visually guided reaching in infant monkeys after restricted rearing. Held R, Bauer JA Jr. Science. 1967
Here's an image from Held and Bauer:

Sackett (and here) was one of Harlow's many students. He went on to become the director of the University of Washington's NIH National Primate Research Center's Infant Primate Research Laboratory. He's now a Professor Emeritus and still has access to young monkeys.

His 2008 paper is another piece of evidence putting the lie to the vivisectors' claims that only important non-redundant research is ever conducted. His 2008 paper is unimportant and redundant. The redundancy is particularly evident. Sackett was writing about the effects of various degrees of isolation rearing in the mid 1960s. If he didn't read the Held and Bauer 1967 Science article, then he wasn't well informed or staying up-to-date in his chosen area of deviance. If he did read it, but forgot about it, then he must not have done a legitimate literature search prior to embarking on the torment leading up to his 2008 paper. And if he did read it and remembered it or found it during a literature search, then he's just a liar.

And so too, must be his co-authors.

Today, Sackett is still up to no good. He has a project titled CHRONIC ATYPICAL NEUROLEPTIC TREATMENT IN NORMALLY DEVELOPING MACACA NEMESTRINA, which he describes like this:
Atypical neuroleptic drugs are being used frequently in children and adolescents with severe psychopathology. The effects of these agents on normal growth and development are unknown. This 5-year project treats normally developing non-human primates (M. nemestrina) with risperidone, quetiapine, or placebo from 13-20 months of age, followed by a 4 month post-drug period. 10 males received a low dose of risperidone or quetiapine for 4 months, then switched to a high dose for 4 months. 20 males will be assigned to the placebo condition. Animals are tested before, during, and after drug or placebo treatment for (1) social, emotional, exploratory, learning and memory, motor skill, and perceptual behavior; and (2) physical assessments of health, somatic growth, bone mineralization, and hormonal function. The study design permits both between-group and within-individual comparisons to examine drug group differences as well as dose effects. Because M. nemestrina monkeys demonstrate psychological and somatic development comparable to humans, this project will identify aspects of human development that are likely to be affected by chronic treatment with these agents.
In fact, children undergoing treatment with atypical neuroleptic drugs are the subject of much study. The potential lon-term and lasting effects of these drugs on children will be discovered by studying the children taking them, not pig-tailed macaques (M. nemestrina). The design of Sackett's research will provide no meaninful comparison between monkeys and humans.

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