Activists Unveil Graphic Video of Monkey Brain Implants at Cybernetics Institute

12/09/2014 23:49

Source: Motherboard


Warning: This article contains graphic images of laboratory animal experimentation.

Under the codename Pawel, an animal rights activist worked as a nurse at the Max Planck Institute of Biological Cybernetics for over half a year, recording with a hidden camera the experiments carried out on macaque monkeys. The results of his research were just published in a video by the SOKO animal rights group called "Basic Research, Basic Wrong."

The video and images show, among other things, what can happen to the animals when the skull of macaques is sawed open and electrodes are inserted into the brain.

A monkey at the Max-Planck-Institute with inflamed "head holder". All images: SOKO Tierschutz/buav

First, what is called a "head holder" is surgically implanted into the monkey's open cranium. Often these surgical wounds appear to bleed profusely. 

In the video, an animal is shown trying to remove the foreign bodies from his skull. The macaque suffers from bloody wounds well into a second week after the surgery. In one case, an implant is inflamed, eventually leading to hemiplegia, which induces the monkey to vomit.

When Motherboard asked SOKO if their actions were legal, the group told us that using their clandestine Search View in the laboratory is a necessary risk, and that they have no fear of a possible criminal prosecution: "Each process brings attention to our cause and the opportunity to basic judgments against the industry," a spokesperson said.

Laboratory animal experimentation is of course highly controversial—such experiments have yielded advances in medical and psychological science, but animal cruelty remains a pressing question. In Germany, about 3.1 million vertebrate animals were "consumed" for experimental purposes in 2012; the vast majority of which were mice and rats. 

In the experiments at the Cybernetics Institute, which primarily study the neurological learning processes, water is in several cases withheld from the monkeys until some begin lick iron rods and drink their own urine, newly released video shows. They are fixed around the neck and with a rod holder on the head; after several hours, they are forced to solve tasks on the screen. Through this, the researchers hope to gain knowledge in the field of perception research. So far, the MPI has not yet replied to our request for examples of specific medical applications being developed from the basic research carried on the laboratory animals at the Institute of Biological Cybernetics.

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