Saturday, November 21, 2009

A look at responsible research with monkeys

Posted on November 18, 2009 by speakingofresearch [on SpeakingofResearch] (See my comments on this post here.)

At the last Pro-Test for Science rally (then UCLA Pro-Test) I was trying to explain opponents of research that the images of bleeding monkeys shown in their signs were either from decades ago or from other countries, not the US or the European Union, and certainly not representative of research at the University of California. To counteract the effect of such misleading images, one of my colleagues in Germany has made a large amount of information available to the public, not only publishing their animal protocols and methods (which can also be obtained by reading the scientific publications), but also illustrating the experiments with both actual pictures and videos taking from his laboratory.
The surgical suite of Prof. Logothetis showing anesthesia and monitoring equipment comparable to those found in the best human surgical suites in hospitals.

You can see the animals in their living quarters, and watch training sessions and how the animals are transferred from their cages to the Laboratory. You can watch a monkey perform a task while the activity of neurons in their brains is being recorded and a video camera follows the movement of the eyes. There is a detailed and illustrative explanation of how recording chambers are implanted, and how a description of the entire surgical suite and protocols. There is also a nice explanation of why alternative methods are not available that would allow investigators to study brain electrophysiology in the intact animal.

This impressive effort by Professor Nikos Logothetis to set the record straight on what is going on inside the laboratories is to be commended and replicated. We hope UCLA and other US institutions can follow up on his example, once researchers and institutional officials become more confident that our openness won’t lead to more threats from animal right extremists. After all, the only way to counteract a campaign of mis-information by opponents of research is to show the public the truth — that research with animals at academic institutions like the Max Plank Institute or the University of California is carried out with responsibility using the most advanced methods available.


Dario Ringach

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