While extensive advances in non-invasive brain neuroimaging like MRI have enabled scientists to safely and ethically study the inner workings of the human brain, it has not stopped the over reliance on animals in neuroscience research.
The Simons Foundation is providing funding for researchers at three universities that are using macaque monkeys to study the neuroscience behind social interactions, and claiming this has relevance for human autism.
In these cruel and invasive experiments, monkeys’ heads and bodies are fully confined in restraint chairs. Electrodes are surgically placed deep into the brain to record neural activity. Monkeys also receive brain injections of a substance known to impact social interactions, to see what effect it will have on these experiments.
Brain recordings are made while monkeys are tested in pairs, as they respond to images on a screen that are linked to a reward of a squirt of fruit juice. In hundreds of trials, these experiments examine whether the monkey will give a juice reward to himself or his partner or both.
The researchers claim to examine the monkeys’ tendency for altruism as measured by the number of times they select to give the other monkey a juice reward. They allege that they are studying the brain mechanism behind kindness, and how this can apply to potential therapies for people with autism.
These cruel experiments funded by the Simons Foundation are outdated and inhumane and need to stop. They are not studying autism, but rather, social traits in monkeys which they hypothesize can be loosely connected to autism.
Modern technology allows scientists to use specialized and high-resolution MRI to directly study the brain’s anatomy, neural connectivity and chemistry in human volunteers to understand how autism truly affects the brains of autistic individuals.
Please sign the petition to the Simons Foundation asking them to end these cruel and unethical experiments on monkeys, which exploit their sensitivity, altruism and empathy towards other monkeys, and have nothing to do with autism.
I was horrified to learn that the Simons Foundation is funding cruel and irrelevant monkey experiments at Duke University, University of Pennsylvania and Yale University.
These experiments exploit qualities in monkeys that are seen in humans, such as sensitivity, altruism and empathy towards other monkeys, and have nothing to do with autism.
Modern technology allows scientists to use specialized and high-resolution MRI to study the brain’s anatomy, neural connectivity and chemistry in human volunteers to understand how autism directly affects the brains of autistic individuals.
Please cease to fund these cruel experiments using monkeys and other animals in primitive experiments and dedicate all Simons Foundation funding to safe, ethical and human-centered research.