A cage-based training, cognitive testing and enrichment system optimized for rhesus macaques in neuroscience research

Behav Res Methods. 2017 Feb;49(1):35-45. doi: 10.3758/s13428-016-0707-3.


In neurophysiological studies with awake non-human primates (NHP), it is typically necessary to train the animals over a prolonged period of time on a behavioral paradigm before the actual data collection takes place. Rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) are the most widely used primate animal models in system neuroscience. Inspired by existing joystick- or touch-screen-based systems designed for a variety of monkey species, we built and successfully employed a stand-alone cage-based training and testing system for rhesus monkeys (eXperimental Behavioral Intrument, XBI). The XBI is mobile and easy to handle by both experts and non-experts; animals can work with only minimal physical restraints, yet the ergonomic design successfully encourages stereotypical postures with a consistent positioning of the head relative to the screen. The XBI allows computer-controlled training of the monkeys with a large variety of behavioral tasks and reward protocols typically used in systems and cognitive neuroscience research.

Keywords: Animal housing; Animal welfare; Automated testing; Behavioral management; Cognitive neuroscience; Environmental enrichment; Non-human primates.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavioral Research / instrumentation*
  • Cognition*
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Teaching*