Why are primates used for some neuroscience research?
Neuroscience is the study of brain organisation and function. While much progress has been made in recent decades, we are still far away from a full understanding of brain function and how it is altered in various neurological and neuropsychiatric diseases. Although various alternatives are increasingly used, most studies to date require experiments with humans or various experimental animals in which hypotheses about the brain can be tested. NHPs are used for their proximity to humans in term of brain function and certain behaviours. For example, NHPs carry out motor tasks with similar dexterity to humans, thanks to their similarly evolved cortico-spinal tract (see Courtine et al,. Nat. Med. 2007).
In both NHPs and humans, vision evolved as the predominant sense, implemented in a similar organisation of their visual systems (see Klein et al,. Neuron. 2016).
As a consequence, NHPs can precisely control their gaze to perform high-resolution, trichromatic vision. NHPs are therefore used to develop and test the effectiveness of treatments aimed at ameliorating blindness. The expansion of cortical and subcortical association areas during evolution has enabled NHPs to engage in various cognitive tasks requiring sustained attentional focusing and memory. In addition to delineating fundamentals of brain organisation, work with NHPs continues also to be important for translational work, with important contributions including the development of cochlear implants, deep brain stimulation as a treatment for Parkinson’s disease and motor prostheses in spinal cord injury.
The critical role of non-human primates in medical research
The importance of non-human primate research in neuroscience
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Why use primates
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