End monkey gambling experiments and retire Aragorn and Isildur

I was shocked to learn about experiments at John Hopkins University conducted in the laboratory of Veit Stuphorn that use rhesus monkeys to investigate whether the supplementary eye field (SEF) region in their brain is involved in human behavior such as gambling.

Pathological gambling is considered a high-risk human behavior, recognized by the American Psychiatric Association as an addiction similar to substance abuse. Addictive gambling is a human disorder, unknown in the world of monkeys.

There is no scientific basis whatsoever to conclude that this monkey research can realistically be compared to human gambling. In these totally unnatural experiments, monkeys are forced to participate through prolonged fluid deprivation, with electrodes implanted in their brains while restrained in primate chairs and made to participate in “gambling” trials to acquire sips of water measured in thousandths of an ounce.

These twisted and irrelevant experiments are not simply callous, they are also totally unnecessary. Using safe and noninvasive methods like fMRI and EEG, neuroscientists can directly study blood flow and electrical activity in the human brain as willing participants carry out tasks with computers or simulated casino games, including people with actual gambling disorders.

Significantly, as revealed in the Iowa Gambling Task Experiment on human gamblers, “if we are to understand our behavior as humans, we will need to both study our decisions, our self-control (executive function), and our emotions” none of which can be mimicked in experiments using nonhuman animals.

More than $2.5 million dollars in funding from the National Institutes of Health have sustained these useless experiments since 2015. This money would be far better spent on research, prevention and treatment of human patients.

I respectfully request that NIH and Johns Hopkins University put an end to these terrible experiments on monkeys. Accordingly, I ask that Aragorn and Isildor, along with the other monkeys confined at Johns Hopkins University be released into a sanctuary.

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