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432Experiments on Monkeys at UCSF

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  • Michelle Tsai
    Aug 28, 2004
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      Project #10000094 Title: Functional Organization of the Central Auditory and Somatosensory Systems (10 owl monkeys, 10 marmoset monkeys, 120 mice and 586 rats used.) Purpose: To study learning disabilities, schizophrenia, depression, repetitive strain injury, stroke injury, etc. Procedures: The monkeys are restrained around the neck and waste in a chair that prevents their hands from reaching their heads. They are restrained up to five hours each day, five days per week. They undergo several surgeries to implant electrodes to record brain activity. Fluid and food restriction/reward is used to make them perform repetitive tasks beyond the point of injury. The researchers also put microphone-headphones on the monkeys to see how they would react to a distorted play-back of their own vocalizations.

      Project #96012538 Title: Functional Organization of the Auditory Forebrain (18 squirrel monkeys used.) Purpose: To study brain circuits in the auditory forebrain and other brain areas. Procedures: The monkeys are made to lose their hearing in various ways. They are bombarded with hours of painful loud noise to cause partial to serious deafness. The monkeys undergo open-skull brain recordings that last continuously for days on end until they are killed. (Please visit http://www.ippl.org/deafen.html for more information.)

      Project #89005007 Title: Structural Basis of Amblyopia and Strabismus (15 squirrel monkeys, 5 cats and 30 rats used.) Purpose: To study lazy eye and imbalance of eye muscles. Procedures: One eyelid is sutured shut soon after birth. Eye muscles are severed. Animals are restrained and paralyzed in brain-mapping experiments that last 24 hours a day for up to five days non-stop.

      Project #01018525 Title: Gene Transfer Approach in Experimental Model of Parkinson�s Disease in Monkeys (30 rhesus monkeys used.) Purpose: To "compare vector mediated gene delivery to the dopamine perikarya in the substantia nigra versus to the dopamine terminals in the striatum." Procedures: To cause Parkinson-like symptoms, monkeys are injected with a neurotoxin to destroy their dopamine neurons. Their behavior is then tested by observing how much trouble they have using their arms to reach for rewards from a covered plate that has a right opening and a left opening.

      Project #01019759 Title: Deep Brain Stimulation and Motor Cortical Function in a Model of Parkinson�s Disease (8 rhesus monkeys used.) Purpose: To "determine the relationship between neuronal activity in the cortex and symptom relief in response to Deep Brain Stimulation for each of the four motor areas." Also, to determine if "different symptoms have different neuroanatomic or physiologic substrates in the cortex." Procedures: Two capture poles are used to force the monkeys from the cage to the restraint chair. Food restriction/reward is used to make the monkey grasp a joystick to control a visible cursor on a computer monitor. The monkey is made to use this cursor to capture a succession of visual targets on the screen. Successful capture will be rewarded with a drop of food through a tube. On weekdays, the monkeys will receive food only during and immediately following a behavioral session. Only on weekends do the monkeys have free access to food. Holes are made in their skulls to
      insert recording chambers, connectors and bolts. Wires are inserted to wind under the skin all the way from their head to the 12 muscles of their right or left arm. They will undergo single-cell brain recording sessions for one year. During the sessions, the monkey�s head is locked in place with the head bolt and the non-working arm restrained while the monkey is made to perform the computer task continuously for up to four hours each weekday. After collecting pre-lesion data, the monkeys will be injected with a neurotoxin to cause Parkinson-like symptoms, and more recordings will be taken. Then deep brain stimulations will be administered to see if the monkeys will improve.

      Project #­­­10000538. Title: Morphophysiology of Thalamic Nociceptive (Pain-sensing) Neurons (4 macaque monkeys and 5 rats used.) Purpose: To "study the somatosensory thalamus of the monkey and how thalamic neural circuitry is changed following partial deafferentation, such as occurs with spinal cord injury." Procedures: Experimenters surgically damage parts of the monkeys' spinal cord to see what happens to their brains as a result.

      Project #­­­02021902. Title: Neural Correlates of Sensorimotor Adaptation in Macaque Cortex (UC-wide program, other private and department funds used.) (4 macaque monkeys used.) Purpose: To "map out the flow of information from vision to the act of reaching in the primate cortex, and to obtain a unique view of the network dynamics underlying the planning and control of reaching." Procedures: The monkeys are restricted from food or liquid and then made to reach to visual targets in a Virtual Reality environment for liquid or semi-solid food rewards administered through a tube. A bolt, used to immobilize the head during single-brain-cell electrical recordings, is implanted onto the skull. If an implant does not remain secure due to bone erosion, more bolts are placed and dental acrylic applied. A recording chamber is also implanted. Wires are inserted to wind under the skin from the head down to the muscles of the arms to record muscle activity. Experiments last up to five
      hours a day, four days a week, for three or more years. As the activity of single brain cells are recorded one at a time, electrodes are poked through various sites of the brain numerous times while the monkeys are awake. Various sites of the brain are also shocked to see how the monkeys would respond.

      Project #­­­00018211. Title: Basal Ganglia Physiology (3 rhesus monkeys used.) Purpose: "To determine the roles of the basal ganglia in the development of dystonia, a condition in which muscles are overactive, producing abnormal postures and/or twisting, writhing movements." Procedures: The monkeys are made to develop hand dystonia by a repetitive motion task. They are forced from the cage to the restraint chair using two capture poles. Two recording chambers and three head fixation bolts are surgically screwed to the skull. Wires are inserted to wind under the skin from the head to the muscles of the left and right arm. Recording sessions last up to 4 hours every weekday for 18 months. The monkey are forced to repetitively open and close their hands to receive a semi-solid food reward through a tube by squeezing a computer-controlled hand grip. They will also be timed on a fruit-picking task. After 12-25 weeks of this, with 200-400 trials per day, the monkeys will
      develop hand dystonia characterized by posturing of the hand, and reduced ability to perform motor tasks. The experimenters then surgically destroy a part of the monkeys' brains (their basal ganglia) to see if the monkeys would improve.


      Project #01018790 Title: Neural Control of Eye Movement; Cortical Plasticity System (14 rhesus monkeys used.) Purpose: To "discover the mechanisms of basic brain functions such as learning, memory, and the generation of motor activity" of the eye.

      The following material is from an IDA website:


      On his web site, http://keck.ucsf.edu/~sgl/, UCSF animal researcher Stephen Lisberger boasts of "the good life" - lunchtime workouts at the local gym, surfing the web to keep up with the stock market and his favorite sports teams, dining at chic Bay Area restaurants, and spending weekend afternoons at wine-tastings and softball games.

      If only "his" monkeys were so lucky.

      Chained on leashes inside their cages, "his" monkeys sit totally alone, metal coils in their eyes, bolts, metal plates, steel cylinders and electrodes drilled and cemented in their skulls. Eyeglasses that distort their vision are cemented to their faces for up to 12 weeks at a time. They are denied free access to fluids in order to keep them thirsty and motivate them to "perform" for juice rewards.

      Prolonged Suffering & Death

      Clinical records from Lisberger's lab reveal a gruesome cycle of sedations, invasive surgical procedures, infections, and medical interventions.Swollen eyes, seeping pus, bleeding surgical wounds, infected brains and depressed behavior are the norm.

      To prepare monkeys for his experiments, Lisberger starts by slicing their eyes open with scalpels so that wire coils can be placed inside.

      Screws are then drilled into their skulls, and a metal plate is placed under the scalp. Bolts that protrude from the plate through the scalp will later be used to screw monkeys by the head into restraining chairs.

      Next, Lisberger drills holes into the monkeys' skulls and inserts stainless steel recording cylinders. Electrodes are driven through the cylinders directly into their brains.

      After a series of surgical procedures, a neurosurgeon drills into the skull, exposes the brain and removes a part of it with suction. After this, the monkeys cannot sit or stand for several days, and must be handfed food and drink.

      Some of these surgical procedures are carried out many times, as bone erodes around the various bolts and implants and the eye coils cause such irritation that they must be removed and placed in the other eye. In addition, scar tissue must be peeled from the lining of the brain "dozens of times" for each monkey.

      In experiments Lisberger calls "running the monkeys," the primates are strapped into restraining chairs, heads bolted into place so they are unable to move, and placed inside a plastic box. The chair is placed on a turntable that rotates them periodically.

      The monkeys are forced to sit in these chairs for up to 8 hours a day, while electrodes implanted in their brains record neurological activity as they move their eyes in a certain pattern for juice rewards. If a monkey doesn't perform, he or she is denied fluids entirely until the next day when the animal is placed on the experiment again.

      For some of these unfortunate animals, the daily horror can last three years or longer.

      Science from the Dark Ages

      Lisberger has been conducting virtually the same experiments for over 21 years. In that time, tremendous progress in research technology has rendered Lisberger's gruesome and archaic methods obsolete. Functional scanning technology, for example, now provides scientists to study the brain non-invasively, and new methods now allow scientists to record cellular brain activity in real human patients, making monkey data unnecessary and irrelevant. Of one such technology, fast MRI, a brain researcher from the University of Pittsburgh told the New York Times, "We have, in a single afternoon, been able to replicate in humans what took 20 years to do in nonhuman primates.'

      Gruesome Experiments Violate Federal Law

      In recent years, Lisberger has run afoul of federal law and has been found by the USDA to: a) not be following the experimental procedure approved by UCSF�s animal research oversight committee; b) not searching for alternatives to his archaic training techniques using water deprivation; c) not giving monkeys enough fluids; d) not ensuring that monkeys are getting enough food; e) not providing monkeys with adequate veterinary care; and e) using sick animals in experiments.

      In addition the Animal Welfare Act violations, Lisberger�s experiments violate other federal guidelines including those calling for social housing of primates (Lisberger keeps his monkeys housed alone) and against multiple surgical procedures (Lisberger subjects the monkeys to as many as nine survival brain surgeries.)

      Despite all of these problems, UCSF�s Committee on Animal Research continues to rubberstamp Lisberger�s experiments, making only slight modifications to his water deprivation procedures following the USDA findings. Appallingly, even those modifications continue to violate the Animal Welfare Act, according to the most recent USDA inspection report dated January 2002.

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