Current Monkeys News and Events

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Saki monkeys get screen time for more control over their lives in captivity
Scientists have designed and built an on-demand video device for white-faced saki monkeys to activate as and when they like. It's up to the animals to decide whether they want to step inside the device - the equivalent of pressing play - to watch the video of the week, from sealife like fish and jellyfish to wiggly worms and other zoo animals to abstract art and lush forests. (2021-02-23)

Where and when is economic decision-making represented in the brain?
Researchers at the University of Tsukuba report two areas of the monkey brain that represent expected value when making economic decisions. Analyses showed that neuronal activity in the VS and the cOFC provided stable representations of expected value, while other regions that are part of the reward network in the brain did not. State-space analysis revealed that the way expected value was represented over time differed in these two areas. (2021-02-10)

Correspondence between representations in visual cortices and neural networks
A research group led by Nobuhiko Wagatsuma, Lecturer at Toho University, Akinori Hidaka, Associate Professor at Tokyo Denki University, and Hiroshi Tamura, Associate Professor at Osaka University, found that the neural network structure of attention prediction, based on deep learning used in the development of artificial intelligence, has similar characteristics to the cerebral mechanism of primates. (2021-02-08)

Marmoset monkeys have personalities too
An international team of behavioral biologists from Austria, Brazil and the Netherlands, with Vedrana Å lipogor from the University of Vienna as leading author of the study, designed a set of tasks to assess personality of common marmosets. These results have just been published in American Journal of Primatology. (2021-02-08)

Eavesdropping marmosets understood other monkeys' conversations - and they judged
Captive marmosets that listened in on recorded vocal interactions between other monkeys appeared to understand what they overheard - and formed judgements about one of the interlocutors as a result, according to behavioral analyses and thermal measurements that corresponded with the marmosets' emotional states. The findings suggest that the eavesdropping monkeys. (2021-02-03)

Marmoset monkeys eavesdrop and understand conversations between other marmosets
Marmoset monkeys perceive the vocal interactions between their conspecifics not just as a string of calls, but as coherent conversations. They also evaluate their content. These are the findings of a study by researchers at the University of Zurich which combined thermography methods with behavioral preference measures. (2021-02-03)

Territorial, expert navigators: The black howler monkeys of Mexico
New research published this week in the journal Animal Behaviour reveals the advanced navigation and memory skills of black howler monkeys. (2021-01-29)

Stimulating brain pathways shows origins of human language and memory
Scientists have identified that the evolutionary development of human and primate brains may have been similar for communication and memory. (2021-01-25)

Watching decision making in the brain
A team of neuroscientists and engineers have developed a system that can show the neural process of decision making in real time, including the mental process of flipping between options before expressing a final choice. (2021-01-25)

How the brain learns that earmuffs are not valuable at the beach
A collaboration between the University of Tsukuba and the NEI in the US has discovered that fast-spiking neurons in the basal ganglia allow monkeys to associate different values with the same objects based on the surrounding environment. Blocking input from these cells inhibited learning of new scene-based values, but did not erase already learned associations. This could help understand clinical conditions such as Tourette syndrome, which is characterized by reduced input from these cells. (2021-01-21)

Study identifies a nonhuman primate model that mimics severe COVID-19 similar to humans
Aged, wild-caught African green monkeys exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus developed acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) with clinical symptoms similar to those observed in the most serious human cases of COVID-19, report researchers in The American Journal of Pathology, published by Elsevier. This is the first study to show that African green monkeys can develop severe clinical disease after SARS-CoV-2 infection, suggesting that they may be useful models for the study of COVID-19 in humans. (2021-01-19)

T cells linked to myelin implicated in MS-like disease in monkeys
Scientists have uncovered new clues implicating a type of herpes virus as the cause of a central nervous system disease in monkeys that's similar to multiple sclerosis in people. By linking two specific T cells to the loss of myelin, scientists say the new study opens the possibility of developing an antiviral therapy that could be especially useful for newly diagnosed cases of multiple sclerosis. (2021-01-15)

Retinal cell transplant clears experimental hurdle toward treating blindness
Retinal cells derived from adult human eye stem cells survived when transplanted into the eyes of monkeys, an important early step in the validation of this approach for treating blindness, according to a study by Liu, et al recently published in Stem Cell Reports. The retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), a layer of pigmented cells in the retina, is essential for sustaining normal vision. Blindness due to RPE dysfunction, such as macular degeneration, affects about 200 million people worldwide. (2021-01-14)

Imagining a face reactivates face-detecting neurons in humans
Face-sensitive neurons in humans employ distinct activity patterns to encode individual faces; those patterns reactivate when imagining the face, according to research recently published in JNeurosci. (2021-01-11)

New strategy to fight botulinum toxin - expert available
Published research shows a new ''Trojan horse'' approach that produces strong antidotal efficacy in treating lethal botulism. (2021-01-06)

Monkeys, like humans, persist at tasks they've already invested in
Humans are generally reluctant to give up on something they've already committed time and effort to. It's called the ''sunk costs'' phenomenon, where the more resources we sink into an endeavor, the likelier we are to continue--even if we sense it's futile. A new study shows that both capuchin monkeys and rhesus macaques are susceptible to the same behavior and that it occurs more often when the monkeys are uncertain about the outcome. (2020-12-18)

Zika virus affects eye development before but not after birth
A new study from UC Davis finds that Zika infection during the first trimester of pregnancy can impact fetal retinal development and cause congenital ocular anomalies. The virus does not appear to affect ocular growth postnatally. (2020-12-18)

NIH researchers discover brain area crucial for recognizing visual events
Researchers at the National Eye Institute (NEI) report that a brain region in the superior temporal sulcus (fSTS) is crucial for processing and making decisions about visual information. (2020-12-17)

Long-term study of gene therapy technique in monkeys finds no adverse health effects
A decade after the birth of the first primates born with the aid of a gene therapy technique designed to prevent inherited mitochondrial disease, a careful study of the monkeys and their offspring reveals no adverse health effects. The new study generally bolsters the scientific basis for mitochondrial replacement therapy in human clinical trials, with an important caveat: Researchers found varying levels of carryover maternal mitochondrial DNA that had preferentially replicated and accumulated within some internal organs, although not enough to cause health effects. (2020-12-08)

Grasping an object - model describes complete movement planning in the brain
Neurobiologists at the German Primate Center developed a model that for the first time can completely represent the neuronal processes from seeing to grasping an object. (2020-12-07)

BIDMC researchers define immune system's requirements for protection against COVID-19
In a new paper in the journal Nature, BIDMC researchers shed light on the role of antibodies and immune cells in protection against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in rhesus macaques. (2020-12-04)

Restoring a rudimentary form of vision in the blind
Restoration of vision in blind people through a brain implant is on the verge of becoming reality. Recent discoveries at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience (NIN) show that newly developed high-resolution implants in the visual cortex make it possible to recognize artificially induced shapes and percepts. The findings were published in Science on 3 December. (2020-12-03)

High-definition brain prosthesis demonstrates artificial shape perception in monkeys
An implant packed with more than 1000 tiny, brain-stimulating electrodes generates recognizable perceptions of motion and complex shapes - including letters of the alphabet - in a monkey's mind. (2020-12-03)

Human Brain Project-supported innovation published in Science
Human Brain Project research has helped lay the foundation for a brain implant that could one day give blind people their sight back. Recent discoveries at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience (NIN) show that in monkeys, newly developed high-resolution implants in the visual cortex make it possible to recognize artificially induced images. The findings were published in Science on 3 December. For further development towards application in humans, the high-resolution 3D digital brain atlases of HBP's EBRAINS Research Infrastructure will become instrumental. (2020-12-03)

KU Leuven vaccine candidate protects against Covid-19 and yellow fever
KU Leuven researchers published results of their vaccine candidate, a vector vaccine based on the yellow fever vaccine. The paper shows that the vaccine protects hamsters from infection with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus after a single dose. It is also effective in monkeys. (2020-12-01)

Hormone found to switch off hunger could help tackle obesity
A hormone that can suppress food intake and increase the feeling of fullness in mice has shown similar results in humans and non-human primates, says a new study published today in eLife. (2020-11-24)

Loyal couples in the rainforest
Coppery titi monkeys do not deceive their partners (2020-11-23)

When new males take over, these female primates hurry up and mature
Most mammals--including humans and other primates--reach sexual maturity early or late depending on lots of different factors, such as how much food there is to eat. Now, researchers studying close primate relatives of baboons known as geladas have shown for the first time that females of this species suddenly hurry up and mature when a new male enters the picture. Their findings are reported in the journal Current Biology on November 5th. (2020-11-05)

Researchers use genomics to reconstitute yellow fever outbreak in São Paulo
Three waves of the disease swept the state between 2016 and 2018. An international group of researchers described how the virus spread in a study based on the sequencing of 51 viral isolates extracted from mosquitoes and monkeys. (2020-11-05)

Monkey see others, monkey do: How the brain allows actions based on social cues
Researchers at the National Institute for Physiological Sciences in Japan have shown that when monkeys make decisions based on social cues provided by other monkeys, information flow from one part of the brain (the ventral premotor cortex) to another (medial prefrontal cortex) is vital. When this neuronal pathway is silenced temporarily, monkeys cannot catch the social cues and end up behaving like autistic monkeys. (2020-11-02)

New insight into how brain neurons influence choices
By studying animals choosing between two drink options, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have discovered that the activity of certain neurons in the brain leads directly to the choice of one option over another. The findings could lead to better understanding of how decision-making goes wrong in conditions such as addiction and depression. (2020-11-02)

How do basal ganglia neurons convey information for the control of voluntary movements?
Researchers revealed how neurons in the basal ganglia, which are a brain region crucial for the control of voluntary movements and whose damage induces motor impairment, such as Parkinson's disease, convey information for the movement control by recording activity of multiple neurons simultaneously in Japanese monkeys. (2020-10-27)

Building blocks of language evolved 30-40 million years ago
The capacity for language is built upon our ability to understand combinations of words and the relationships between them, but the evolutionary history of this ability is little understood. Now, researchers from the University of Warwick have managed to date this capacity to at least 30-40 million years ago, the last common ancestor of monkeys, apes and humans. (2020-10-21)

Cognitive elements of language have existed for 40 million years
Humans are not the only beings that can identify rules in complex language-like constructions -- monkeys and great apes can do so, too, a study at the University of Zurich has shown. Researchers at the Department of Comparative Language Science of UZH used a series of experiments based on an 'artificial grammar' to conclude that this ability can be traced back to our ancient primate ancestors. (2020-10-21)

Monkey study suggests that they, like humans, may have 'self-domesticated'
Asif Ghazanfar led a team of scientists who determined that changing an infant monkey's verbal development also changed a physical marker of domesticity: a patch of white fur on its forehead. This is the first study linking the degree of a social trait with the size of a physical sign of domestication, in any species. (2020-10-15)

Oldest monkey fossils outside of Africa found
Three fossils found in a lignite mine in southeastern Yunan Province, China, are about 6.4 million years old, indicate monkeys existed in Asia at the same time as apes, and are probably the ancestors of some of the modern monkeys in the area, according to an international team of researchers. (2020-10-09)

Computer model explains altered decision making in schizophrenia
Scientists have built a computer 'brain circuit', or artificial neural network, that mirrors human decision-making processes and sheds light on how circuits might be altered in psychiatric diseases. (2020-09-29)

How the brain balances emotion and reason
Navigating through life requires balancing emotion and reason, a feat accomplished by the brain region ''area 32'' of the anterior cingulate cortex. The area maintains emotional equilibrium by relaying information between cognitive and emotional brain regions, according to new research in monkeys published in JNeurosci. (2020-09-28)

Evolutionary and heritable axes shape our brain
Every region has its place in the brain. However, it has been unclear why brain regions are located where they are. Now, scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences have defined two main axes along which brain regions are genetically organized, stretching from posterior to anterior and inferior to superior in the brain. These axes are mainly shaped by genes and evolution. (2020-09-28)

Primate brain size does not predict their intelligence
A research team from the German Primate Center has systematically investigated the cognitive abilities of lemurs, which have relatively small brains compared to other primates. Conducting systematic tests with identical methods revealed that cognitive abilities of lemurs hardly differ from those of monkeys and great apes. Instead, this study revealed that the relationship between brain size and cognitive abilities cannot be generalized and it provides new insights into the evolution of primates. (2020-09-25)

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