Everyone hates taxes and almost everyone loves animals. So, what better way to commemorate the IRS filing deadline than by revealing how your money is used to fund what one animal rights group calls “Real Ridiculous Research?”
In Defense of Animals today released its annual list of research that animals, and maybe humans, could do without.
Researchers linked to Emory University made the list twice.
Coming in at No. 8 is a study by Emory experimenters that suggests prairie voles (mouse-like critters) raised in single parent holes do a poor job of raising children. Now we know who to blame when Vole Jr. appears on Intervention, addicted to researcher sunflower seeds.
And did you know researchers at Emory’s Yerkes National Primate Research Center have discovered chimpanzees are more likely to yawn after watching familiar chimpanzees yawn when viewing a stranger? This interesting fact earns a No. 5 ranking on IDA’s “Real Ridiculous Research” list. A Science Daily article spills the bananas, if you wish to learn more.
Topping the list is a discovery even a yawning primate could have told you: Labs are stressful places for monkeys.
Researchers at Tulane determined lab rhesus monkeys showed “abnormal behaviors” such as rocking or pacing back and forth while watching other monkeys being physically restrained and injected with anesthetic. I feel my mental health is greatly unimproved just by reading about it.
Here’s some more interesting research made possible by your tax dollars.
IDA couldn’t tell me how much money was spent on any of the ground-breaking research, but did say the work was funded by National Institutes of Health grants. The NiH has an annual budget of $32 billion and funds roughly a third of all health-related research in the United States.
Spokesman Eric Kleimnan said IDA believes no animals should be used for research, and that NiH grants could do a better job of furthering the federal agency’s mission, which is, according to the NiH website, “making important discoveries that improve health and save lives.”
A spokeswoman for the Yerkes center said the research cited by IDA “have the potential to lessen the impact of psychiatric and social disorders on families and the greater society.”
In an email, Lisa Newbern said:
In one study, Yerkes researchers found there is a negative lifelong effect on the brain that stems from adverse early life experiences. Such knowledge is key to future studies focused on identifying the brain chemistry involved in forming social relationships and developing treatments to halt the impact of psychiatric diseases.
In another study, researchers focused on how social biases strengthen or weaken empathy, as demonstrated by contagious yawning. Such knowledge of emotional connections between individuals has therapeutic treatment applications in that autism, bias and bullying are all associated with impairments to normal empathy functioning.
“These behavioral studies and others at Yerkes are leading to results we believe will be key in forming social foundations that strengthen our society,” said Newbern.
Yerkes did not respond to a specific request for more information about the cost of the studies.