Researchers will deprive infants of maternal contact to study anxiety and depression
Noah Phillips. Isthmus 07/31/2014.
I've debunked Kalin's claims here: A Response to Ned Kalin.
This is a response to the sidebar that accompanied the main article: UW-Madison animal research oversight committees strive for consensus.
The title belies the twin facts that there wasn't a consensus among the members of the oversight committee on Kalin's maternal deprivation project, and that the decision to let him proceed was made by only two unnamed people, who I will wager were both vivisectors, demolishing the worn and repeated contention that members of the public are involved in the decision-making. What a joke.
Mostly though, I am writing because a new University voice in support of hurting and killing animals for hire has emerged from within the cloistered animal labs: Craig Berridge. The sidebar's author paraphrases Berridge and says that he "is comfortable with the scrutiny given animal research on campus."
Berridge is quoted saying that: "Animal research is a heavily regulated and overseen process... I think everyone who does animal research feels they're balancing the need for and desire to alleviate human suffering and to minimize animal suffering."
Animal research isn't heavily regulated. See my essay The Ethics Underpinning Oversight. I suspect that at least some of the members of his lab believe that the things they are doing to rats might in someway alleviate human suffering, but in any other setting with similarly remote odds of success, they would probably say that the odds are so slight that the costs could not be justified. And the odds of alleviating human suffering as a result of what they are doing to the rats are vanishingly small. For one of the many examples of the failure of using other animals to model human biology see: "Mice Fall Short as Test Subjects for Humans’ Deadly Ills." Gina Kolata. New York Times. February 11, 2013.
Anyway, it isn't any surprise that someone riding the public funding gravy train to wealth thinks that oversight of what they are doing is adequate. Here's a passage for one of Berrige's papers that gives some idea of just what it is that we are paying him to do:
When exposed to an inescapable stressor, animals may engage in a limited set of “coping” behaviors, often involving oral behavior such as chewing, which act to attenuate certain components of the stress response (Berridge et al., 2002). For example, mice and rats exposed to an inescapable, novel, and brightly lit environment (novelty-stress) chew inedible material (wood, foil, etc) preferentially over highly palatable food (Berridge et al., 1999; Hennessy and Foy, 1987). Under these conditions, chewing suppresses the glucocorticoid stress response (Hennessy and Foy, 1987). Moreover, chewing also attenuates stress-related DA utilization preferentially within the mPFC, having no noticeable effect on stressor-induced increases in DA utilization outside this region (Berridge et al., 1999). Interestingly, chewing-induced suppression of [medial prefrontal cortex dopamine] utilization is largely confined to the right hemisphere (Berridge et al., 1999).
It probably cost us millions in tax dollars to find that out. That's why I go to work. You too?
But, that passage doesn't give a us much insight into the suffering he and his staff cause the rats they consume. Before reading any further, just in case you have a false impression of who rats are, you ought to check out these links. Here, here, and here.
This is from Stress-induced impairment of a working memory task: role of spiking rate and spiking history predicted discharge. Devilbiss DM, Jenison RL, Berridge CW. PLoS Comput Biol. 2012:
Materials and Methods
Five male Sprague-Dawley rats (300–400 g; Charles River, Wilmington MA) were individually housed in an enriched environment (Nylabone® chews) on a 13/11-hour light-dark cycle (light 0600-2000). Animals were maintained on a restricted feeding schedule (15–20 g of standard chow available immediately after training/testing). All procedures were in accordance with NIH guidelines and were approved by the University of Wisconsin Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.
If you watched the videos linked to above, you ought to have noticed that Berridge and people who care about the rats have a much different idea of what "enrichment" means. A Nylabone is sparse enrichment. Devilbiss, Jenison, and Berridge continue:
Animals were trained in a T-maze delayed-non-match to position task as described previously .... Initial training was complete when animals entered the T-maze arm opposite from the last one visited for food rewards (chocolate chips 1.6 gm) delivered by the experimenter's hand with 90% accuracy on 10 trials (0 seconds delay, 1 session/day). Animals were then surgically implanted with recording electrodes and returned to ad lib feeding for the duration of recovery (7–10 days). Following recovery, training continued until animals performed two sessions of 41 trials at criterion of 90–100% correct for 2 consecutive days.... During training sessions, animals were tethered to a dummy wire harness of identical weight and flexibly as the harness used for electrophysiological recording on testing days. After acclimation to the tether, animals showed no differences in maze performance or overt behaviors from prior reports....
On the morning of testing, an animal was placed in his home cage, on top of the T-maze, 2 hours before the first session began to allow the animal to habituate to the tether and the recording arena and allowed the experimenter to discriminate neural activity. Although animals had access to water and were able to freely move about their cage, during this period animals predominantly slept.... During the second testing session of the day, presentation of the white noise (93 db) stressor was begun immediately prior to testing and presented continuously throughout the duration of the 41 trials. White noise as stressor has been shown previously to impair PFC-dependent functions in rats, monkeys, and humans and activate the stress-related circuits within the brain as well as the hypothalamic-pituitary axis of rats. Testing with noise stress was permitted at most 1/week.
93 db is like the sound of a jackhammer 50 feet away, or the sound of a lawnmower when you are standing next to it.
This is their description of the surgery (Can you imagine a psychologist being permitted to perform brain surgery on a human?):
Under halothane anesthesia (Halocarbon Laboratories, River Edge, New Jersey; 1%–4% in air), animals were implanted bilaterally with linear electrode arrays (n = 8 electrodes/array; 250 µm separation; SB103, NB Labs, Dennison, TX) targeting layer V of the prelimbic region of the PFC (plPFC) as previously described. Electrode arrays contained 50 µm stainless-steel electrodes orientated in a rostral-caudal direction. Electrodes were attached to skull screws (MX-0080-16B-C, Small Parts, Inc.) with dental acrylic (Plastics One, Roanoke, Virginia), the wound was closed with wound clips (9 mm Autoclip; BD Diagnostic Systems, Sparks, Maryland), and animals were allowed to recover for 7–10 days.
There is no mention of post-surgical analgesia. Humans describe pain after a craniotomy -- the surgical removal of part of the skull to expose the brain -- as being moderate to severe. Research has found that many patients do not receive adequate treatment for their pain. [Perioperative pain management in the neurosurgical patient. Ortiz-Cardona J1, Bendo AA. Anesthesiol Clin. 2007.] But hey, I'm sure an psychologist doing brain surgery on rats does a better job treating his rats' pain than do trained brain surgeons caring for their human patients.
On testing days, animals were brought into the T-maze testing room and tethered to the Multichannel electrophysiology Acquisition Processor. During the 2 hour habituation period, ... animals remained tethered to recording hardware and the quality of the discrimination was monitored throughout the remainder of the day.
[You can watch a video here.]
And then they were killed and their brains analyzed.
I though too that it was interesting that Berridge defended the oversight system that sanctioned Kalin's experiments on the effects of stress -- in many ways not too different from Berridge's, and yet Kalin says that he simply must use monkeys because rats' brains are so different from humans'. Inconsistency is probably common in situations where people are indirectly paid to ignore it.
I can't conclude this short missive without at least mentioning the deep thinking exhibited in the article by the University's head vivisector, Eric Sandgren who says all is well with the oversight system in place; after all, 9 of the 12,000 animal research protocols submitted since 2004, have been denied outright. And who but an extremist like me would see anything but success in the fact that the University has approved all but .075% of its vivisectors' proposed experiments?