Skoumbourdis, E. K., Potratz, K. 2005. Diazepam is more effective than midazolam when used as an aid in chair training non-human primates. American Journal of Primatology 66(S1), 164. (28th Meeting of the American Society of Primatologists Scientific Program, Abstract #176)
Non-human primates (NHPs) are utilized frequently in biomedical research and can be difficult and sometimes dangerous to handle. Because of this, restraint is sometimes necessary for data collection. Restraint chair training is generally a straightforward process, however, not all animals are easily trained. Occasionally, there are NHPs that are unwilling to enter the chair even after several weeks of training. Also, NHPs that display stereotypic behaviors or self-injurious behaviors (SIBs) are especially difficult to train, as the process can be stressful, thus exacerbating these behaviors. We tested four male rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) with a history of stereotypic behavior, SIB, or a combination of both to see the effect of benzodiazapines (a class of drugs used as sedatives and anticonvulsants) on pole, collar and chair training. Animals received .25 mg/kg of either diazepam (n = 2) or midazolam (n = 2) 20 minutes prior to a training session. We found that after two sessions, animals in the diazepam group were willing to be polled, entered the chair with ease, and were free of any abnormal behaviors. Conversely, the animals in the midazolam group showed little or no improvement. These results show that although both diazepam and midazolam are effective as clinical agents, they affect abnormal behaviors differently. This suggests that we may be able to learn more about abnormal behaviors through our knowledge of drug actions on the central nervous system.