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Paper   IPM / Cognitive Sciences / 14469
School of Cognitive Sciences
  Title:   Optimizing cage-based training for non-human primates
1.  M.D. Curry
2.  M. Parsa
3.  A. Cilker
4.  L. Violetti
5.  M.R.A. Dehaqani
6.  B. Noudoost
  Status:   In Proceedings
  Proceeding: Program No. 97.18 / LLL38, Society for Neuroscience Meeting. San Diego, 2016.
  Year:  2016
  Supported by:  IPM
Non-human primates (NHPs) are widely used experimental models in neurophysiological studies. Training on cognitive tasks prior to collecting neurophysiological data is an inseparable part of much of the research conducted using NHPs. Any improvement in the training method that reduces stress to the animal, increases the speed of training or improves performance on the task is of great potential value. Nevertheless, training procedures vary greatly from lab to lab and are likely far from being optimized. We have designed, built and successfully utilized a fully portable cage-mountable system to train NHPs. Although this system has been developed using Rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta), it could be used to train a variety of monkey species. Here we describe the technical specifications, construction, and operation of the system. The flexibility and portability of both the animal interface (AI) and the control unit (CU) of this system would allow it to be used for a large variety of behavioral paradigms. This method has been used to train rhesus monkeys on two different behavioral paradigms including the delayed match-to-sample (DMS) task and a change detection task. Utilizing the in-cage training system allows the animal greater control over when and how long it chooses to work, rather than imposing a training schedule based on the availability of the experimenter. Using this method the animal learned to perform both behavioral tasks in a short amount of time; based on our experience, learning of the DMS task was faster with in-cage training than with traditional methods. In some cases the animal would use the training system without the need for any water restriction. In addition to allowing voluntary, self-paced engagement with the task, this method has the advantage of being less disruptive to the monkey's social interactions, and presumably eliminating some of the stress occasioned by relocating for chair training. This system has the potential to ease and expedite the behavioral training of non-human primates on a variety of tasks.

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