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Get to Know Your Local Laboratories: The Colby Lab

 (originally published in 2009)

The lab of Carol L. Colby has been doing cruel and expensive vision research with nonhuman primates for many years.  Colby has also been accused of fraudulent research practices which you can read more about here.

One of her recent grants, provided by SAEN, shows a budget total of 1.25 Million dollars [1]. The grant also details the experiments done on these animals which focus on the use of “split brain” monkeys, meaning that the animal’s corpus callosum is severed [1]. The corpus callosum connects the right half of the brain to the left. Without it, they can not communicate sufficiently with each other. Since different functions often reside in different hemispheres of the brain, severing this connection causes great distress and dysfunction in the individual. For instance, a patient with a severed corpus callosum will not be able to name what s/he has seen if the object is presented in his/her left visual field because the connection to language processing for the item has been severed. Severing the Corpus Callosum is an outdated treatment not used today in humans except in rare instances as a last resort [2] yet the Colby lab forces monkeys to undergo these procedures in every study they do.

In Colby’s publications, the procedures these animals suffer are further detailed. In one study, rhesus macaques were given surgeries to sever the corpus callosum in their brains. They were then forced to undergo training for vision tasks as they healed. After training they were given another painful surgery to implant neural recording devices in their brains. They were then fixed to restraint chairs (a practice condemned even by many animal researchers) in a dark room to perform the tasks they were trained on. This article did not detail what happened to the monkeys after this ordeal ended. [3]

In another study, monkeys were given surgeries to have screws embedded in their skulls and a head restraint attached to their head. Coils were implanted around their eyes to record movements and neural recording devices were implanted into their brains. The implanted head restraint was then attached to a restraint chair where the monkeys were forced to perform tasks in a darkened room. [4]

In another publication, the surgeries are described in the researcher’s own words as “extremely invasive” and with an extreme risk of infection due to the exposure of the brain cavity. The connections in the monkeys’ brains were severed. After healing and training, the monkeys were then given surgery again to insert a screws and a head restraint into their skulls and coils near their eyes similar to the aforementioned study. They were again affixed by their skulls to restraint chairs and forced to perform tasks. [5]

In another study, monkeys were given surgeries to sever their corpus callosums and then were forced to perform visual tasks [6]. Information on what was done to monkeys in this study was not as detailed as the former.

The Colby lab has not published any research since 2007 but this does not mean research is not occurring behind closed doors. It is often the procedures and results we never read about that are the most disturbing.
Contact Carol Colby at [email protected] Work: Office: 115 Mellon Institute, 4400 5th Ave, Pittsburgh, PA, 15213 Telephone:412-268-7295 Fax:412-268-5060

                 Have information on an animal laboratory that you would like to share? Email us at paavATtutanotaDOTcom about it. We will protect your privacy.


[1] Colby Grant Application
[2] Split Brain Experiments
[3] Rebecca A. Berman, Laura M. Heiser, Catherine A. Dunn, Richard C. Saunders, and Carol L. Colby. (2007). Dynamic Circuitry for Updating Spatial Representations. III. From Neurons to Behavior. J Neurophysiol. 98. 105-21.
[4] Laura M. Heiser and Carol L. Colby. (2005). Spatial Updating in Area LIP Is Independent of Saccade Direction. J Neurophysiol. 95. 2751-2767.
[5] Rebecca A. Berman, Laura M. Heiser, Richard C. Saunders, and Carol L. Colby. (2005). Dynamic Circuitry for Updating Spatial Representations. I. Behavioral Evidence for Interhemispheric Transfer in the Split-Brain Macaque. J Neurophysiol. 94. 3228–3248.
[6] Carol L. Colby, Rebecca A. Berman, Laura M. Reiser, and Richard C. Saunders. (2005). Corollary discharge and spatial updating: when the brain is split, is space still unified? Progress in Brain Research. 149.

This post first appeared on Pittsburgh Association For The Abolition Of Vivisection, please read the originial post: here

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Get to Know Your Local Laboratories: The Colby Lab


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