Abstract # 118:

Scheduled for Friday, June 21, 2013 11:30 AM-11:45 AM: Session 13 (San Geronimo Ballroom C) Oral Presentation


E. Bliss-Moreau, G. Moadab and J. Theil
University of California, Davis, California National Primate Research Center, Davis, CA 95616, USA
     Traditional procedures for training nonhuman primates to be restrained in “chairs” typically involve very little use of positive reinforcement. In this talk, we detail a refined chair training procedure which uses a mix of positive and mild negative reinforcement to train animals for chairing. We were able to rapidly train 14 rhesus macaques who had essentially no prior positive reinforcement learning history. Group 1 was trained in an average of 14.14 sessions (SD=3.09) that averaged 26.54 minutes (SD=4.11). In addition to describing our method in detail, we will also demonstrate that having a positive reinforcement training (PRT) history speeds the cooperative chair training process. We were able to train a second group (Group 2) of 14 rhesus macaques with a PRT history during fewer, shorter sessions. Training for this group was completed in an average of 7.5 sessions (SD=3.28) that averaged 10.66 minutes long (SD=7.86). Group 2 was trained significantly faster than Group 1, F(1, 26)=34.487, p=.000003. Similarly, the session length for Group 2 was significantly shorter than for Group 1, F(1, 26)=42.512, p=.000001. We were able to train all animals, even those deemed “unfit” for traditional pole-and-collar training. In the context of these data, we believe that our methods represent a major refinement upon traditional techniques. Implications for animal well-being and the flexibility of the “box” chair will be discussed.