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Non-human Primates in Neuroscience Research: The Case Against its Scientific Necessity

Jarrod Bailey and Katy Taylor

Public opposition to non-human primate (NHP) experiments is significant, yet those who defend them cite minimal harm to NHPs and substantial human benefit. Here we review these claims of benefit, specifically in neuroscience, and show that: a) there is a default assumption of their human relevance and benefit, rather than robust evidence; b) their human relevance and essential contribution and necessity are wholly overstated; c) the contribution and capacity of non-animal investigative methods are greatly understated; and d) confounding issues, such as species differences and the effects of stress and anaesthesia, are usually overlooked. This is the case in NHP research generally, but here we specifically focus on the development and interpretation of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), deep brain stimulation (DBS), the understanding of neural oscillations and memory, and investigation of the neural control of movement and of vision/binocular rivalry. The increasing power of human-specific methods, including advances in fMRI and invasive techniques such as electrocorticography and single-unit recordings, is discussed. These methods serve to render NHP approaches redundant. We conclude that the defence of NHP use is groundless, and that neuroscience would be more relevant and successful for humans, if it were conducted with a direct human focus. We have confidence in opposing NHP neuroscience, both on scientific as well as on ethical grounds.

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Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Common Marmoset Head

Vee-Meng Lee, Newman G. Burdett, T. Adrian Carpenter, Nicholas J. Herrod, Michael F. James and Laurance D. Hall

This study evaluated the changes in the intrinsic magnetic resonance (MR) relaxation parameter values (T1, T2, proton density, magnetisation transfer and apparent diffusion coefficient) of the marmoset head, imaged before and after death. Knowing the absolute values of the MR parameters makes it possible to choose an imaging protocol for optimal structural
differentiation. The changes between the ante-mortem and post-mortem MR parameters provide an insight into the changing biophysical microenvironment of the post-mortem brain, and allow some of the changes that occur in pathological conditions to be predicted. Diffusionweighted MR imaging (MRI) was used to map quantitative apparent diffusion coefficient values, and to investigate diffusional anisotropy along the fibre tracts in pre-mortem and post-mortem brain tissue. A three-dimensional data set of the entire marmoset brain demonstrates the ability of three-dimensional MRI to differentiate internal brain structures. MRI is a non-invasive technique which, in principle, permits the same animal to be re-imaged serially and has the potential to probe in vivo brain structural and biophysical changes over an extended period of time. Serial imaging, where each animal acts as its own control, reduces the number of animals required to detect a significant change by minimising the effects of inter-subject variance. MRI therefore provides important scientific and ethical benefits.
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