Hansmeyer, L., Yurt, P., Agha, N. et al. 2023. Home-enclosure-based behavioral and wireless neural recording setup for unrestrained rhesus macaques. ENeuro 10(1) ENEURO.0285-22.2022.

Electrophysiological studies with behaving nonhuman primates often require the separation of animals from their social group as well as partial movement restraint to perform well-controlled experiments. When the research goal per se does not mandate constraining the animals’ movements, there are often still experimental needs imposed by tethered data acquisition. Recent technological advances meanwhile allow wireless neurophysiological recordings at high band-width in limited-size enclosures. Here, we demonstrate wireless neural recordings at single unit resolution from unrestrained rhesus macaques while they performed self-paced, structured visuomotor tasks on our custom-built, stand-alone touchscreen system [eXperimental Behavioral Instrument (XBI)] in their home environment. We were able to successfully characterize neural tuning to task parameters, such as visuo-spatial selectivity during movement planning and execution, as expected from existing findings obtained via setup-based neurophysiology recordings. We conclude that when movement restraint and/or a highly controlled, insulated environment are not necessary for scientific reasons, cage-based wireless neural recordings are a viable option. We propose an approach that allows the animals to engage in a self-paced manner with our XBI device, both for fully automatized training and cognitive testing, as well as neural data acquisition in their familiar environment, maintaining auditory and sometimes visual contact with their conspecifics.