Sacchetti, S., Ceccarelli, F., Ferrucci, L. et al. 2021. Macaque monkeys learn and perform a non-match-to-goal task using an automated home cage training procedure. Scientific Reports 11(1), 2700.
In neurophysiology, nonhuman primates represent an important model for studying the brain. Typically, monkeys are moved from their home cage to an experimental room daily, where they sit in a primate chair and interact with electronic devices. Refining this procedure would make the researchers’ work easier and improve the animals’ welfare. To address this issue, we used home-cage training to train two macaque monkeys in a non-match-to-goal task, where each trial required a switch from the choice made in the previous trial to obtain a reward. The monkeys were tested in two versions of the task, one in which they acted as the agent in every trial and one in which some trials were completed by a “ghost agent”. We evaluated their involvement in terms of their performance and their interaction with the apparatus. Both monkeys were able to maintain a constant involvement in the task with good, stable performance within sessions in both versions of the task. Our study confirms the feasibility of home-cage training and demonstrates that even with challenging tasks, monkeys can complete a large number of trials at a high performance level, which is a prerequisite for electrophysiological studies of monkey behavior.