Refinement of the use of fluid control as a motivational tool for non-human primates in neuroscience research

Behavioural neuroscience is important for understanding how the brain works, and aids the discovery of appropriate treatments for human brain diseases and conditions. Non-human primates have similar neural structures to humans, and are therefore used as a model species in this type of research. They are often motivated to perform in behavioural neuroscience experiments through the use of fluid rewards during the tasks, and an associated control of fluid intake outside of the experimenteg. Fluid control protocols are contentious, and yet there are very few scientific data to inform how these protocols could be refined or replaced. This project is the first to systematically measure how fluid protocols impact on the physiology and behaviour of individual animals, and tests whether more palatable fluids or social rewards might increase motivation, and reduce or eliminate the need for fluid control. In addition, by refining current motivational methods, it may also be possible to reduce the number of non-human primates used in behavioural neuroscientifc studies through improved data collection.

Gray H, Bertrand H, Mindus C, Flecknell P, Rowe C, Thiele A (2016) Physiological, behavioral, and scientific impact ofdifferent fluid control protocols in the rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta). eNeuro 3(4): 1-15 e0195-16 doi:10.1523/eneuro.0195-16.2016

Gray H, Pearce B, Thiele A, Rowe C (2017) The use of preferred social stimuli as rewards for rhesus macaques in behavioural neuroscience. PLoS ONE 12(5): e0178048.

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PhD Studentship



Principal investigator

Professor Alex Thiele


Newcastle University


Dr Candy Rowe

Grant reference number


Award date:

Sep 2012 - Sep 2016

Grant amount