A platform for semiautomated voluntary training of common marmosets for behavioral neuroscience

J Neurophysiol. 2020 Apr 1;123(4):1420-1426. doi: 10.1152/jn.00300.2019. Epub 2020 Mar 4.


Generally behavioral neuroscience studies of the common marmoset employ adaptations of well-established training methods used with macaque monkeys. However, in many cases these approaches do not readily generalize to marmosets indicating a need for alternatives. Here we present the development of one such alternate: a platform for semiautomated, voluntary in-home cage behavioral training that allows for the study of naturalistic behaviors. We describe the design and production of a modular behavioral training apparatus using CAD software and digital fabrication. We demonstrate that this apparatus permits voluntary behavioral training and data collection throughout the marmoset's waking hours with little experimenter intervention. Furthermore, we demonstrate the use of this apparatus to reconstruct the kinematics of the marmoset's upper limb movement during natural foraging behavior.NEW & NOTEWORTHY The study of marmosets in neuroscience has grown rapidly and presents unique challenges. We address those challenges with an innovative platform for semiautomated, voluntary training that allows marmosets to train throughout their waking hours with minimal experimenter intervention. We describe the use of this platform to capture upper limb kinematics during foraging and to expand the opportunities for behavioral training beyond the limits of traditional training sessions. This flexible platform can easily incorporate other tasks.

Keywords: behavioral training; marmosets; motor control.

Publication types

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