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J Neurosci Methods. 2012 Aug 15;209(2):331-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2012.06.028. Epub 2012 Jul 10.

A novel touch-sensitive apparatus for behavioral studies in unrestrained squirrel monkeys.

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Preclinical Pharmacology Laboratory, McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School, 115 Mill Street, Belmont, MA 02478, USA.


Despite the increasing sophistication and affordability of touch-sensitive technology, its use in the behavioral sciences has been limited. The present paper describes the design and empirical validation of a novel touch-sensitive operant conditioning chamber for use with unrestrained squirrel monkeys. In addition, results from a variant of a commonly employed animal model of learning, the repeated acquisition task, demonstrate the effectiveness of this chamber in programming an assay of complex behavior. Finally, results from a study with Δ(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol, the active ingredient in marijuana, show that its effects in this novel touchscreen chamber were consistent with its dose-related effects on learning using more conventional approaches. Overall, these studies indicate the touchscreen apparatus provides effective means for programming complex behavioral tasks to assess the effects of pharmacological agents on cognitive function.

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