End monkey gambling experiments and retire Aragorn and Isildur
Action Alert from All-Creatures.org


CAARE Citizens for Alternatives to Animal Research
October 2018


In a laboratory at John Hopkins University, a group of monkeys spend their lives as research subjects for brain experiments.

Two of these monkeys—Aragorn and Isildur—were recently used in experiments to investigate which region of the brain is involved in human gambling. Aragorn has been confined and used in these types of experiments for nearly 10 years.

More than $2.5 million dollars in funding from the National Institutes of Health have sustained these useless experiments since 2015. This money would be far better spent on research, prevention and treatment of human patients.

Pathological gambling is a uniquely human behavior, recognized by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) as an addiction similar to substance abuse, but it is unknown in the world of monkeys.

Yet, behind locked doors where animal lives are expendable, and taxpayers’ money is readily available, researchers can confine, coerce, and cut into the brains of intelligent, sensitive and defenseless monkeys.

Aragorn and Isildor were subjected to prolonged water deprivation to compel them to learn how to “gamble” in computer simulations to win tiny drops of fluid as a reward, droplets so small they are measured in meagre thousandths of an ounce.

Once trained, they underwent surgeries in which a hexagonal contraption was implanted into their brains that allowed for electrodes—one in each hemisphere—to be inserted to record neuronal activity and cause repeated “brain freezes” during forced “gambling” trials.



Experiments at John Hopkins University conducted in the laboratory of Veit Stuphorn use rhesus monkeys to investigate whether the supplementary eye field (SEF) region in their brain is involved in human behavior such as gambling.

Pathological gambling is considered a high-risk human behavior, recognized by the American Psychiatric Association as an addiction similar to substance abuse. Addictive gambling is a human disorder, unknown in the world of monkeys.

There is no scientific basis whatsoever to conclude that this monkey research can realistically be compared to human gambling. In these totally unnatural experiments, monkeys are forced to participate through prolonged fluid deprivation, with electrodes implanted in their brains while restrained in primate chairs and made to participate in “gambling” trials to acquire sips of water measured in thousandths of an ounce.

These twisted and irrelevant experiments are not simply callous, they are also totally unnecessary. Using safe and noninvasive methods like fMRI and EEG, neuroscientists can directly study blood flow and electrical activity in the human brain as willing participants carry out tasks with computers or simulated casino games, including people with actual gambling disorders.

Significantly, as revealed in the Iowa Gambling Task Experiment on human gamblers, “if we are to understand our behavior as humans, we will need to both study our decisions, our self-control (executive function), and our emotions” none of which can be mimicked in experiments using nonhuman animals.

Thank you for everything you do for animals!

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