1. Neuroscience
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A naturalistic environment to study visual cognition in unrestrained monkeys

  1. Georgin Jacob
  2. Harish Katti
  3. Thomas Cherian
  4. Jhilik Das
  5. KA Zhivago
  6. SP Arun  Is a corresponding author
  1. Indian Institute of Science Bangalore, India
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Cite this article as: eLife 2021;10:e63816 doi: 10.7554/eLife.63816

Abstract

Macaque monkeys are widely used to study vision. In the traditional approach, monkeys are brought into a lab to perform visual tasks while they are restrained to obtain stable eye tracking and neural recordings. Here, we describe a novel environment to study visual cognition in a more natural setting as well as other natural and social behaviors. We designed a naturalistic environment with an integrated touchscreen workstation that enables high-quality eye tracking in unrestrained monkeys. We used this environment to train monkeys on a challenging same-different task. We also show that this environment can reveal interesting novel social behaviors. As proof of concept, we show that two naïve monkeys were able to learn this complex task through a combination of socially observing trained monkeys and through solo trial-and-error. We propose that such naturalistic environments can be used to rigorously study visual cognition as well as other natural and social behaviors in freely moving monkeys.

Data availability

All data required to reproduce the results in the study are available at https://osf.io/5764q/

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Georgin Jacob

    Centre for Neuroscience, Indian Institute of Science Bangalore, Bangalore, India
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0001-8262-0155
  2. Harish Katti

    Centre for Neuroscience, Indian Institute of Science Bangalore, Bangalore, India
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  3. Thomas Cherian

    Centre for Neuroscience, Indian Institute of Science Bangalore, Bangalore, India
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  4. Jhilik Das

    Centre for Neuroscience, Indian Institute of Science Bangalore, Bangalore, India
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  5. KA Zhivago

    Centre for Neuroscience, Indian Institute of Science Bangalore, Bangalore, India
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  6. SP Arun

    Centre for Neuroscience, Indian Institute of Science Bangalore, Bangalore, India
    For correspondence
    sparun@iisc.ac.in
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0001-9602-5066

Funding

DBT-Wellcome Trust India Alliance (IA/S/17/1/503081)

  • SP Arun

ICMR Senior Research Fellowship

  • Thomas Cherian

UGC Senior Research Fellowship

  • Jhilik Das

DST Cognitive Science Research Initiative

  • Harish Katti

MHRD Senior Research Fellowship

  • Georgin Jacob

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Ethics

Animal experimentation: All procedures were in accordance to experimental protocols approved by the Institutional Animal Ethics Committee of the Indian Institute of Science (CAF/Ethics/399/2014 & CAF/Ethics/750/2020) and by the Committee for the Purpose of Control and Supervision of Experiments on Animals, Government of India (25/61/2015-CPCSEA & V-11011(3)/15/2020-CPCSEA-DADF).

Reviewing Editor

  1. Miriam Spering, The University of British Columbia, Canada

Publication history

  1. Received: October 8, 2020
  2. Accepted: November 24, 2021
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: November 25, 2021 (version 1)

Copyright

© 2021, Jacob et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

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