Monday, April 20, 2015

Maternal Deprivation Cancelled

"The study design has been changed." Blink.

Without much ado the University of Wisconsin, Madison has cancelled its planned revival of Harry Harlow's infamous experimental use of maternal deprivation.

(They have apparently cancelled them. They say they have, but I'm skeptical of anything they say about their use of animals.)

It was May 11, 2012, that I first wrote about the university's plans, though I initially misunderstood who the vivisector was. I thought at first it was the evil Alyson Joy Bennett, when it was actually the evil Ned Kalin. Over the past three years, many other people have taken note of the cruelty and have added their voices (here, here, here, here, google Ned Kalin to see many more) to demand that the maternal deprivation experiments be stopped. Kalin used the euphemism early adversity in lieu of maternal deprivation, but no one was ever confused by his double talk.

In the university's defense of the defenseless, they mobilized a number of senior researchers and administrators who all made ridiculous and misleading claims about the project. They received support from pro-vivisection industry groups and a cult.

University Communications quietly announced on March 12, 2015, that: "... the study design has been changed. Researchers will now examine the wide range of individual differences in the development of anxiety in monkeys raised by their mothers. While this study will not examine the effects of early adversity, it will characterize [clinically meaningless other stuff.]"

I suspect that I am more surprised by this capitulation than anyone else in the world. The cruelty is going to be somewhat less it now appears. I'm very glad.

Kalin had based his request to NIH for millions of taxpayer dollars on his argument that he was going to come up with information that would lead to a cure or vaccination against the rare lifelong consequences that afflict a small percentage of people who experience early adverse experiences like child abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, and other forms of poor parenting, and that he needed to maternally deprive 20 newborn rhesus infants to do so. He had explained in his grant request:
It is important to emphasize that currently there are no evidence based treatments available for young children exposed to early adversity who face the risk of developing debilitating psychiatric disorders. While numerous studies have been performed examining the effects of surrogate/peer rearing in nonhuman primates, no studies have been reported examining the effects of this rearing modification on brain development using state of the art imaging and molecular methods. These efforts will allow us to identify the exact brain regions affected, the changes in gene function in these regions, and the specific genes that are involved in increasing the early risk to develop a anxiety and depression. Such information has the potential to identify new targets in specific brain regions that can lead to new ideas about treatment and even prevention of the long-term suffering associated with early adversity.
That's apparently gone out the window. Dollars to vegan doughnuts, one or more of the university's high donors caught wind of the maternal deprivation project and exerted the only sort of pressure the university understands.

For much more on this saga, just search this blog using any germane term, like snake oil.

1 comment:

Jillian Hussey said...

I share your skepticism that Kalin has abandoned his cruel experiment, but hope I'm wrong. Jillian