Common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus) as a primate model for behavioral neuroscience studies

J Neurosci Methods. 2017 Jun 1;284:35-46. doi: 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2017.04.004. Epub 2017 Apr 8.


Background: The common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus) has been proposed as a suitable bridge between rodents and larger primates. They have been used in several types of research including auditory, vocal, visual, pharmacological and genetics studies. However, marmosets have not been used as much for behavioral studies.

New method: Here we present data from training 12 adult marmosets for behavioral neuroscience studies. We discuss the husbandry, food preferences, handling, acclimation to laboratory environments and neurosurgical techniques. In this paper, we also present a custom built "scoop" and a monkey chair suitable for training of these animals.

Results: The animals were trained for three tasks: 4 target center-out reaching task, reaching tasks that involved controlling robot actions, and touch screen task. All animals learned the center-out reaching task within 1-2 weeks whereas learning reaching tasks controlling robot actions task took several months of behavioral training where the monkeys learned to associate robot actions with food rewards.

Comparison to existing method: We propose the marmoset as a novel model for behavioral neuroscience research as an alternate for larger primate models. This is due to the ease of handling, quick reproduction, available neuroanatomy, sensorimotor system similar to larger primates and humans, and a lissencephalic brain that can enable implantation of microelectrode arrays relatively easier at various cortical locations compared to larger primates.

Conclusion: All animals were able to learn behavioral tasks well and we present the marmosets as an alternate model for simple behavioral neuroscience tasks.

Keywords: Behavioral neuroscience; Marmoset (Callithrix jacchus); Nonhuman primate (NHP); Small NHP model.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Behavioral Sciences / methods*
  • Brain / anatomy & histology*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Callithrix / anatomy & histology*
  • Callithrix / physiology*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Models, Animal*
  • Neurosciences / methods
  • Species Specificity