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Concept: Macaque


Several groups have developed brain-machine-interfaces (BMIs) that allow primates to use cortical activity to control artificial limbs. Yet, it remains unknown whether cortical ensembles could represent the kinematics of whole-body navigation and be used to operate a BMI that moves a wheelchair continuously in space. Here we show that rhesus monkeys can learn to navigate a robotic wheelchair, using their cortical activity as the main control signal. Two monkeys were chronically implanted with multichannel microelectrode arrays that allowed wireless recordings from ensembles of premotor and sensorimotor cortical neurons. Initially, while monkeys remained seated in the robotic wheelchair, passive navigation was employed to train a linear decoder to extract 2D wheelchair kinematics from cortical activity. Next, monkeys employed the wireless BMI to translate their cortical activity into the robotic wheelchair’s translational and rotational velocities. Over time, monkeys improved their ability to navigate the wheelchair toward the location of a grape reward. The navigation was enacted by populations of cortical neurons tuned to whole-body displacement. During practice with the apparatus, we also noticed the presence of a cortical representation of the distance to reward location. These results demonstrate that intracranial BMIs could restore whole-body mobility to severely paralyzed patients in the future.

Concepts: Old World monkey, Monkeys in space, Brain, Macaque, Velocity, Rhesus Macaque, Cerebral cortex, Primate


For four decades, the inability of nonhuman primates to produce human speech sounds has been claimed to stem from limitations in their vocal tract anatomy, a conclusion based on plaster casts made from the vocal tract of a monkey cadaver. We used x-ray videos to quantify vocal tract dynamics in living macaques during vocalization, facial displays, and feeding. We demonstrate that the macaque vocal tract could easily produce an adequate range of speech sounds to support spoken language, showing that previous techniques based on postmortem samples drastically underestimated primate vocal capabilities. Our findings imply that the evolution of human speech capabilities required neural changes rather than modifications of vocal anatomy. Macaques have a speech-ready vocal tract but lack a speech-ready brain to control it.

Concepts: Japanese Macaque, Cercopithecinae, Barbary Macaque, Language, Monkey, Rhesus Macaque, Macaque, Primate


Humans are unique among primates for not only engaging in same-sex sexual acts, but also forming homosexual pair bonds. To shed light on the evolutionary origins of homosexuality, data on the occurrence and contexts of same-sex behavior from nonhuman primates may be of particular significance. Homosexual behavior involving females is poorly researched in most primate taxa, exceptions being Japanese macaques, rhesus macaques, Hanuman langurs and bonobos. We present data on homosexual behavior in female mountain gorillas in the Virunga Volcanoes (Rwanda) and test four functional hypotheses, namely reconciliation, affiliation, dominance expression and sexual arousal. Homosexual interactions between females involved both ventro-dorsal and ventro-ventral copulations accompanied by vocalizations and courtship displays. The only sociosexual hypothesis that received partial empirical support is the social status hypothesis, i.e., that mounting reaffirms the dominance hierarchy. There is also some limited evidence that same-sex behavior reflects an overall state of arousal or is triggered via a ‘pornographic’ effect. An adaptive function of female homosexual behavior is not readily apparent, and we tentatively conclude (until a more rigorous test becomes available) that it may simply be related to sexual gratification or that it is an evolutionary by-product of an adaptation.

Concepts: Gorilla, Homosexuality, Rhesus Macaque, Old World monkey, Macaque, Human, Sexual intercourse, Primate


Like humans, monkeys value information about sex and status, inviting the hypothesis that our susceptibility to these factors in advertising arises from shared, ancestral biological mechanisms that prioritize social information. To test this idea, we asked whether rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) show choice behavior that is similar to humans in response to sex and social status in advertising. Our results show that monkeys form preferences for brand logos repeatedly paired with images of macaque genitals and high status monkeys. Moreover, monkeys sustain preferences for these brand logos even though choosing them provided no tangible rewards, a finding that cannot be explained by a decision mechanism operating solely on material outcomes. Together, our results endorse the hypothesis that the power of sex and status in advertising emerges from the spontaneous engagement of shared, ancestral neural circuits that prioritize information useful for navigating the social environment. Finally, our results show that simple associative conditioning is sufficient to explain the formation of preferences for brand logos paired with sexual or status-based images.

Concepts: Social status, Sociology, Choice, Cercopithecine monkeys, Monkeys in space, Macaque, Rhesus Macaque, Primate


It was recently shown that rhythmic entrainment, long considered a human-specific mechanism, can be demonstrated in a selected group of bird species, and, somewhat surprisingly, not in more closely related species such as nonhuman primates. This observation supports the vocal learning hypothesis that suggests rhythmic entrainment to be a by-product of the vocal learning mechanisms that are shared by several bird and mammal species, including humans, but that are only weakly developed, or missing entirely, in nonhuman primates. To test this hypothesis we measured auditory event-related potentials (ERPs) in two rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta), probing a well-documented component in humans, the mismatch negativity (MMN) to study rhythmic expectation. We demonstrate for the first time in rhesus monkeys that, in response to infrequent deviants in pitch that were presented in a continuous sound stream using an oddball paradigm, a comparable ERP component can be detected with negative deflections in early latencies (Experiment 1). Subsequently we tested whether rhesus monkeys can detect gaps (omissions at random positions in the sound stream; Experiment 2) and, using more complex stimuli, also the beat (omissions at the first position of a musical unit, i.e. the ‘downbeat’; Experiment 3). In contrast to what has been shown in human adults and newborns (using identical stimuli and experimental paradigm), the results suggest that rhesus monkeys are not able to detect the beat in music. These findings are in support of the hypothesis that beat induction (the cognitive mechanism that supports the perception of a regular pulse from a varying rhythm) is species-specific and absent in nonhuman primates. In addition, the findings support the auditory timing dissociation hypothesis, with rhesus monkeys being sensitive to rhythmic grouping (detecting the start of a rhythmic group), but not to the induced beat (detecting a regularity from a varying rhythm).

Concepts: Meter, Old World monkey, Macaque, Monkeys in space, Rhesus Macaque, Rhythm, Mammal, Primate


There is growing evidence that impaired sensory-processing significantly contributes to the cognitive deficits found in schizophrenia. For example, the mismatch negativity (MMN) and P3a event-related potentials (ERPs), neurophysiological indices of sensory and cognitive function, are reduced in schizophrenia patients and may be used as biomarkers of the disease. In agreement with glutamatergic theories of schizophrenia, NMDA antagonists, such as ketamine, elicit many symptoms of schizophrenia when administered to normal subjects, including reductions in the MMN and the P3a. We sought to develop a nonhuman primate (NHP) model of schizophrenia based on NMDA-receptor blockade using subanesthetic administration of ketamine. This provided neurophysiological measures of sensory and cognitive function that were directly comparable to those recorded from humans. We first developed methods that allowed recording of ERPs from humans and rhesus macaques and found homologous MMN and P3a ERPs during an auditory oddball paradigm. We then investigated the effect of ketamine on these ERPs in macaques. As found in humans with schizophrenia, as well as in normal subjects given ketamine, we observed a significant decrease in amplitude of both ERPs. Our findings suggest the potential of a pharmacologically induced model of schizophrenia in NHPs that can pave the way for EEG-guided investigations into cellular mechanisms and therapies. Furthermore, given the established link between these ERPs, the glutamatergic system, and deficits in other neuropsychiatric disorders, our model can be used to investigate a wide range of pathologies.

Concepts: Ketamine, Phencyclidine, Electroencephalography, Excitotoxicity, Macaque, Rhesus Macaque, Primate, NMDA receptor


BACKGROUND: Trigeminal nerve is a major source of the sensory input of the face, and trigeminal neuropathology models have been reported in rodents with injury to branches of the maxillary or mandibular division of the trigeminal nerve. Non-human primates are neuroanatomically more closely related to human than rodents; however, nerve injury studies in non-human primates are limited. RESULTS: We describe here a nerve injury model of maxillary nerve compression (MNC) in the cynomolgus macaque monkey, Macaca fascicularis, and the initial characterization of the consequences of damage to this trigeminal nerve branch. The nerve injury from the compression appeared to be mild, as we did not observe overt changes in home-cage behavior in the monkeys. When mechanical stimulation was applied to the facial area, monkeys with MNC displayed increased mechanical sensitivity, as the avoidance response scores were lower than those from the control animals. Such a change in mechanical sensitivity appeared to be somewhat bilateral, as the contralateral side also showed increased mechanical sensitivity, although the change on the ipsilateral side was more robust. Multiple-unit recording of the maxillary nerve showed a general pattern of increasing responsiveness to escalating force in mechanical stimulation on the contralateral side. Ipsilateral side of the maxillary nerve showed a lack of responsiveness to escalating force in mechanical stimulation, possibly reflecting a maximum stimulation threshold effect from sensitized nerve due to MNC injury. CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that MNC may produce increased sensitivity of the ipsilateral maxillary nerve, and that this model may serve as a non-human primate model to evaluate the effect of injury to trigeminal nerve branches.

Concepts: Simian, Maxillary nerve, Mandibular nerve, Monkey, Cranial nerves, Macaque, Trigeminal nerve, Primate


Rodent models have dominated preclinical investigations into the mechanisms of depression. However, these models-which rely on subjecting individual rodents to physical stressors - do not realistically resemble the etiopathological development of depression, which occurs naturally in a social context. A non-human primate model that better reflects the social ethological aspects of depression would be more advantageous to investigating pathophysiological mechanisms and developing antidepressant therapeutics. Here, we describe and model a naturally-occurring depressive state in a non-human primate species, the cynomolgus monkey (Macaca fascicularis), in a realistic social ethological context and associate the depressed behavioral phenotype with significant serum metabolic perturbations. One to two subjects per stable social colony (17-22 subjects) manifested a depressive phenotype that may be attributed to psychosocial stress. In accordance with rodent and human studies, the serum metabolic phenotype of depressed and healthy subjects significantly differed, supporting the model’s face validity. However, application of the fast-acting antidepressant ketamine failed to demonstrate predictive validity. This study proposes a non-human primate depression model in a realistic social ethological context that can better approximate the psychosocial stressors underlying depression.

Concepts: Euarchontoglires, Bipolar disorder, Rodent, Monkey, Mammal, Macaque, Human, Primate


Pliocene uplifting of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau (QTP) and Quaternary glaciation may have impacted the Asian biota more than any other events. Little is documented with respect to how the geological and climatological events influenced speciation as well as spatial and genetic structuring, especially in vertebrate endotherms. Macaca mulatta is the most widely distributed non-human primate. It may be the most suitable model to test hypotheses regarding the genetic consequences of orogenesis on an endotherm.

Concepts: Pleistocene, Charles Darwin, Evolution, Biology, Old World monkey, Macaque, Rhesus Macaque, Primate


We have recently resurrected the name Entamoeba nuttalli Castellani, 1908 for a potentially virulent ameba isolate, P19-061405, obtained from a rhesus macaque in Kathmandu, Nepal. The ameba was morphologically indistinguishable from E. histolytica/E. dispar/E. moshkovskii, but located phylogenetically between E. histolytica and E. dispar. To evaluate the prevalence of E. nuttalli infection in wild rhesus macaques, 112 fecal samples were collected in four locations of the Kathmandu Valley. PCR analysis of DNA extracted from the feces showed positive rates of E. nuttalli, E. dispar, E. histolytica and E. moshkovskii of 51%, 12%, 0% and 0%, respectively. A total of 14 E. nuttalli isolates were obtained from four locations, of which 6 were established as axenic cultures. The sequences of the serine-rich protein gene of E. nuttalli isolates differed among four locations although no differences were found in the composition of sequence motifs. Isoenzyme pattern was analyzed in 8 isolates obtained from three locations. In hexokinase, the mobility of the slower migrating band was located between E. histolytica and E. dispar regardless of the culture conditions. These results demonstrate that E. nuttalli is high prevalent in wild rhesus macaques in Nepal. Rhesus macaques appear to be one of the natural hosts and heterogeneity of the serine-rich protein gene might be useful for geographical typing of isolates.

Concepts: DNA, Nepal, Entamoeba, Cercopithecine monkeys, Entamoeba histolytica, Primate, Macaque, Rhesus Macaque