Behavioral training of marmosets and electrophysiological recording from the cerebellum

J Neurophysiol. 2019 Oct 1;122(4):1502-1517. doi: 10.1152/jn.00389.2019. Epub 2019 Aug 7.


The common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus) is a promising new model for study of neurophysiological basis of behavior in primates. Like other primates, it relies on saccadic eye movements to monitor and explore its environment. Previous reports have demonstrated some success in training marmosets to produce goal-directed actions in the laboratory. However, the number of trials per session has been relatively small, thus limiting the utility of marmosets as a model for behavioral and neurophysiological studies. In this article, we report the results of a series of new behavioral training and neurophysiological protocols aimed at increasing the number of trials per session while recording from the cerebellum. To improve the training efficacy, we designed a precisely calibrated food regulation regime that motivates the subjects to perform saccade tasks, resulting in ~1,000 reward-driven trials on a daily basis. We then developed a multichannel recording system that uses imaging to target a desired region of the cerebellum, allowing for simultaneous isolation of multiple Purkinje cells in the vermis. In this report, we describe 1) the design and surgical implantation of a computer tomography (CT)-guided, subject-specific head post, 2) the design of a CT- and MRI-guided alignment tool for trajectory guidance of electrodes mounted on an absolute encoder microdrive, 3) development of a protocol for behavioral training of subjects, and 4) simultaneous recordings from pairs of Purkinje cells during a saccade task.NEW & NOTEWORTHY Marmosets present the opportunity to investigate genetically based neurological disease in primates, in particular, diseases that affect social behaviors, vocal communication, and eye movements. All of these behaviors depend on the integrity of the cerebellum. We present training methods that better motivate the subjects, allowing for improved performance, and we also present electrophysiological techniques that precisely target the subject's cerebellum, allowing for simultaneous isolation of multiple Purkinje cells.

Keywords: cerebellum; marmoset; saccade; surgical methods; training methods.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Callithrix
  • Conditioning, Psychological*
  • Electroencephalography / instrumentation
  • Electroencephalography / methods*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Purkinje Cells / physiology*
  • Reinforcement Schedule
  • Saccades