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Most Outrageously Repetitive


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Fright Nights at University of Wisconsin: 25 years of terrifying monkeys

The runaway winner of our Most Outrageously Repetitive award is a team of researchers at the Health Emotions Research Institute at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Ned H. Kalin and his colleagues have been reporting on their use of rats and monkeys to study the neurobiology of fear since 1988. There is no evidence that any of the experiments have helped anyone but the scientists.

In a recent paper, they report on another 24 monkeys they frightened and killed, purportedly to study neurological components of childhood anxiety. Young male rhesus monkeys, ranging in age from 9 months to 4 years, were placed alone in a test cage and then a “human intruder” would enter the room and sit there for 30 minutes. After this episode, monkeys were anesthetized to have their blood drawn. Monkey behavior during the intruder episode is briefly described “freezing for at least 3 seconds, and tense body posture,” among others.

Testing trials continued at intervals over 18 months, during which the monkeys were subjected to more blood draws and PET scans. Then they were killed to study their brains.

Unfortunately for children born with an anxious temperament, this latest study on the brains of frightened monkeys will have absolutely no affect on their life trajectory or help them if they develop a mental illness.

Long-term research tracing the life course of children with an anxious temperament has discovered that about two-thirds of them will develop symptoms of anxiety and depression. Researchers who study and work with children focus on a child’s environment, including parenting, child care, and peer relationships in their effort to develop prevention and intervention programs.

The research on the biology of fear in animals at the University of Wisconsin, Madison has cost taxpayers over $5 million in just the past ten years. Over the past 25 years, they have frightened rats and monkeys with electric shocks, live and rubber snakes, intimidating strangers, and burned away various parts of their brains with acid and electro-cautery to see what effect it would have on their fear.

This colossal waste of tax dollars and the profound suffering heaped upon these animals makes this lab’s work a real standout in this category.

What You Can Do

Please help IDA in speaking out about the millions of dollars that fund this sort of outrageously wasteful and terribly cruel research on animals. It’s time to put a stop to it. The US economy is in crisis, making this even more urgent to address.

Click here to contact your US Senators and Congressperson. Ask for much stricter oversight for granting money to animal research. Insist that all NIH-funded experiments comply with its stated mission “to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce the burdens of illness and disability.”

You can also call your elected officials. Find their phone numbers, or call the US Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121.

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Fox AS, Oler JA, Shelton SE, Nanda SA, Davidson RJ, Roseboom PH, Kalin NH. “Central amygdala nucleus (Ce) gene expression linked to increased trait-like Ce metabolism and anxious temperament in young primates.” Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A.(2012 Oct 30;109(44):18108-13.