Increasing Competence: Evidence based training of large laboratory animals
11th January 2019 in Leuven
The goals of this workshop were to expand knowledge of animal trainers and exchange expertise
The target audience were: postdocs, PhD students, technical staff
Enquire Workshop Report [here]
Providing Evidence: Emily Bethell et al.: Cognitive bias to assess psychological wellbeing in non-humans primates. How can we move from theory to practice? (doi: 10.7120/09627222.214.171.124)
During this webinar Emily talked through the traditional cognitive bias method developed to measure 'optimism' and 'pessimism' in nonhuman primates (Bethell et al. 2012). A challenge facing welfare scientists is how to apply what we learn from experiments to develop tools that can be used in real world settings. She discussed the pros and cons of the cognitive bias methodology for application in primate facilities and identified future directions.
Emily Bethell is a Senior Lecturer in Primate Behaviour at the Liverpool John Moores University (https://www.emilybethell.com/) and she is working on the study of animal emotions and cognition since 1997.
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Sharing Knowledge: Ms Jennifer McMillan, Emory University, USA. Review of an international survey of approaches to chair restraint of NHP and other chair training refinements/protocols.
Dr Pablo Molina Vila, Primatology Station, France. Training of bipedal locomotion in olive baboons.
Positive Reinforcement Training (PRT) and Animal Behavioural Management (ABM) of non-human primates (NHP) and other large laboratory animals used in biomedical research reduce the stress level for the animals, promote more reliable results, facilitate the refinement of methods and procedures and lead to increased safety, both for animals and personnel. Furthermore, well trained animals, that are physically and psychologically healthy, are very much in demand and have a high market value.
PRT requires skill and careful planning; otherwise the risk of mistakes training the animal is high. Sharing experience and knowledge improves training skills and can foster the development of training protocols, which is an essential part preventing training mistakes.
Find a video of the lecture (Molina only) [here]
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Increasing Competence: Train-the-trainer-workshop (WG2) 25th April 2017 in Leuven
There is a lack of European laboratory animal trainers’ exchange and networking. To overcome this, COST has granted Action CA15131 ‘PRIMTRAIN’. Work Group 2 of the Action aims at increasing the competence of laboratory staff involved in animal behaviour management and animal training. Both require skills and knowledge that are difficult to acquire without proper guidance. Therefore one measure must be to train the trainer to optimally instruct fellow staff and students.
This Workshop’s goal was to impart means and strategies to already experienced staff involved with laboratory animal training to effectively share their knowledge to other staff at their facilities. Workshop participants were: experienced animal trainers (postdocs, PhD students, technical staff).
Enquire Workshop Report [here]
Communicating: PRIMTRAIN delivered input to the SCHEER Final Opinion on The need for non-human primates in biomedical research, production and testing of products and devices (update 2017)
Following a request from the European Commission, the Scientific Committee on Health, Environmental and Emerging Risks (SCHEER) reviewed recent evidence to update the 2009 Opinion of the Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks (SCHEER) on ‘The need for non-human primates in biomedical research, production and testing of products and devices’.
This Opinion responds to six main issues in the mandate and highlights the many scientific approaches that could significantly contribute to the replacement, reduction and refinement (3Rs) of Non-Human Primates (NHP) studies and tests. However, there are significant issues that go beyond scientific rationale that prevent widespread adoption and development of alternatives for NHP laboratory use and these are discussed with suggestions of the opportunities to overcome them.
Although the current state of knowledge does not permit to propose a timetable for phasing-out the use of NHP in Europe, the Opinion provides recommendations on how to advance 3Rs for NHP use, such as through alternative methods, training, improvement of techniques and protocols, sharing of knowledge and removal of barriers. Finally, research need sare given.
In preparation of the final opinion, a public consultation was opened on the website of the Scientific Committees from 10 February to 26 March 2017. Information about the public consultation was broadly communicated to national authorities, international organisations and other stakeholders.
190 contributors from Academia, researchers, Member States, Non-Governmental Organisations and industry, providing a total of 318 comments, participated in the public consultation, providing input to different chapters and subchapters of the Opinion. PRIMTRAIN delivered relevant input of which many points have been included in the Final Opinion.
For more information
Read the full opinion here:
Read the fact-sheet explaining the Opinion in a layman language:
Read the web-summary explaining the Opinion in a layman language:
Providing Evidence: The first Journal Club took place 1st of November 2016 at the PRIMTRAIN Opening Conference in Göttingen. Karolina Westlund presented her article on "Training pair-housed Rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) using a combination of negative and positive reinforcement" in Behavioural Processes 113 · December 2014 (DOI: 10.1016/j.beproc.2014.12.008).
When training animals, time is sometimes a limiting factor hampering the use of positive reinforcement training (PRT) exclusively. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of a combination of negative and positive reinforcement training (NPRT). Twenty naïve female Rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) were trained in 30 sessions with either PRT (n = 8) or NPRT (n = 12) to respond to a signal, move into a selected cage section and accept confinement. In the NPRT-group a signal preceded the presentation of one or several novel, and thus aversive, stimuli. When the correct behaviour was performed, the novel stimulus was removed and treats were given. As the animal learned to perform the correct behaviour, the use of novel stimuli was decreased and finally phased out completely. None of the PRT-trained animals finished the task. Ten out of 12 monkeys in the NPRT-group succeeded to perform the task within the 30 training sessions, a significant difference from the PRT-group (p = 0.0007). A modified approach test showed no significant difference between the groups (p = 0.67) in how they reacted to the trainer. The results from this study suggest that carefully conducted NPRT can be an alternative training method to consider, especially when under a time constraint.