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University of California, Los Angeles, CA

Neurologist Aysha Akhtar's statement on the scientific validity of Dario Ringach's Research

August 29, 2006

To Whom It May Concern:

As a neurologist, I would like to comment on the study “Spatial overlap of ON and OFF subregions and its relation to response modulation ratio in macaque primary visual cortex”, by Mata ML and Ringach DL, published in Journal of Neurophysiology, 2004.

This research lacks any clinical relevance and is unlikely to provide any benefit for human patients of neurological diseases. The principle reason why this is the case is that there are numerous differences in the neuroanatomy and physiology of the central nervous system (CNS) between nonhuman primates and humans. These differences include locations of specialized areas in the brain, expression and function of specific neurological markers, and projection and survival capabilities of neuronal cells. It is a well known fact that the visual system of macaque monkeys differs in considerable ways from that of humans, both in structure and function. For example, humans have visual processing areas that do not exist in monkeys, the Visual 1 area comprises 10% of the total monkey cortex, but only 3% in humans, and anatomically corresponding visual areas in monkeys and humans can perform very different functions.

Nonhuman primates are poor surrogates of complex, human CNS function. At best this experiment and others like it inform us only of the visual system in monkeys. These experiments are a waste of our precious and limited health care and research resources. Rather than continuing studies such as this one, we will do our patients more good by focusing our efforts on studying human neural pathology and physiology.

Sincerely,

Aysha Akhtar, MD, MPH
Senior Medical and Research Advisor

See: Signed Letter
See abstract of: Spatial Overlap of ON and OFF Subregions and Its Relation to Response Modulation Ratio in Macaque Primary Visual Cortex

See abstract of: Correlation of local and global orientation and spatial frequency tuning in macaque V1

"This lab performed animal experiments involving pain or distress but no analgesics, anesthetics or pain relievers were administered."

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Rats, mice, birds, amphibians and other animals have been excluded from coverage by the Animal Welfare Act. Therefore research facility reports do not include these animals. As a result of this situation, a blank report, or one with few animals listed, does not mean that a facility has not performed experiments on non-reportable animals. A blank form does mean that the facility in question has not used covered animals (primates, dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, pigs, sheep, goats, etc.). Rats and mice alone are believed to comprise over 90% of the animals used in experimentation. Therefore the majority of animals used at research facilities are not even counted.

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