Harming mice will not treat human speech disorders

Mice are tiny, intelligent mammals with a rich and complex social system. In recent years, scientists have published numerous studies demonstrating that mice communicate using an intricate array of sounds, akin to birds and whales. Most of these occur in the ultrasonic range, higher than the human ear can detect.

Though this knowledge should increase respect for mice as sentient beings, in the world of animal experimentation, this means more and crueler ways to abuse them. CAARE has uncovered experiments at Cornell University that examine the brain pathways of mouse sounds, including electrically shocking them until they cry out in distress.

Please join CAARE in opposing this senseless cruelty by sending a letter to decision makers to stop these painful and needless experiments at Cornell.


The researchers’ big “discovery” is that mouse social calls and distress calls arise from different neurons. To learn this, they gave painful electric shocks to the mice to force them to cry in distress to evaluate the sounds they made. These squeaks were loud and detectable by humans.

They also injected the mice directly into the brain for the purpose of damaging selected neurons using a viral vector to block gene expression. They did this to show that the mice could still squeak when shocked, although they no longer had the ability to produce ultrasonic sounds when socializing with other mice.


After that, they injected mice in the abdomen with a different compound to reverse the effect of the gene blocker to prove that the sounds were produced because of those neurons.

After multiple rounds of these vicious experiments, the mice were killed by being given formaldehyde injections directly into the heart.

As if brain-damaging mice to silence their socialization and shocking them to squeak in pain wasn’t depraved and wasteful enough, the principal investigator claims there are plans for more research like this, writing, “Knowing there are different populations of neurons for USVs [ultrasonic sounds] and squeaks opens up a whole new set of experiments diving into the neural mechanisms of those vocalizations. I’m looking forward to the next steps.”

And not surprisingly, they claim that results from these experiments may help us understand how the brain controls speech in humans.

It’s nonsense to think that shocking mice and probing their brains will ever lead to actual treatments or cures for human speech disorders. The brain circuits controlling speech in humans compared to animals are vastly different. Rather than using modern, nonanimal methods to study the human brain, Cornell’s “research” is rooted in outdated, nineteenth century science that believed carving up animals could teach us about human medicine.


It hasn’t -- and it won’t.

Meanwhile, science has evolved radically so that we can ethically and effectively study these processes with human biology-based methods and really cure and treat diseases that affect people.

And yet, the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) has just awarded a grant to perpetuate this research, guaranteeing that these cruel and useless experiments continue. Please use the form above to send a letter to Cornell and the NIMH to let them know you want to see these experiments ended.

Thank you for taking action to end these cruel experiments!

Citizens for Alternatives to Animal Research and Experimentation (CAARE), is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, established to highlight and promote research without animals.


Please donate to support CAARE’s mission to reduce animal suffering by disseminating information about the power and progress of research without animals.

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  • Barbara Stagno
    published this page in Action Alerts 2024-05-22 11:30:01 -0400