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Stop Wasteful Experiments On Marmoset Monkeys To Study Human Communication

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Originally Posted: December 7, 2012

Stop Wasteful Experiments On Marmoset Monkeys To Study Human Communication

FROM In Defense of Animals (IDA)


Please send a letter to Congress and the NIDCD, asking them to stop funding silly experiments on animals and instead use valuable tax dollars for human-based research.

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National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
National Institutes of Health
31 Center Drive, MSC 2320
Bethesda, MD USA 20892-2320
[email protected]


marmoset IDAIDA was distressed to learn about wasteful, irrelevant research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) involving marmoset monkeys, to examine how the brain processes sound. Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Researcher Xiaoqin Wang, PhD and his associates are using marmosets. We question this NIH decision-making when allocating precious taxpayer funds, especially during this era of massive budget cuts.

Marmosets are highly social and vocal monkeys who use a range of sounds to communicate. Their "phee" call sounds like a high-pitched whistle and is used for mating, group communication and territorial defense.

In one experiment, Wang and his collaborators examined the effects of external noise on the marmosets' ability to communicate using "phee" calls. They separated bonded pairs of marmosets into cages where they couldn't see each other, then played loud white noise at various intervals while recording the marmosets' attempts to communicate.

Their results demonstrated that the marmosets continued to communicate with each other overwhelmingly during the silence breaks. In other words, the marmosets adapted their calling to accommodate the periods of silence, even when the length and timing of the breaks was unpredictable. It seems as if the intelligence of the marmosets outshines that of the researchers.

Funded by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) - a division of NIH - the grant cost taxpayers over a half million dollars in 2012. Even more absurd, this grant has been awarded $3.4 million from 2003 to 2012, and the project is approved to continue through 2017.

NIH's mission, shared by NIDCD, is "to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce the burdens of illness and disability." Wang's team claims the marmosets' vocal behaviors provide "crucial insight" into the vocal control and sensory feedback mechanisms of a non-human primate, but they give no explanation of how this might benefit people.

Thank you for everything you do for animals!