Next week is a national animal rights week.
OHSU is aware of these annual weeks because sometimes we have protests, sometimes our researchers’ families are targeted at home. It can get ugly.
There’s a lot of public debate about the use of animals in research and the best ways to make one’s voice heard when you are opposed.
This post isn’t about all that stuff.
Instead its about facts.
A friend of mine pointed out this news story in Parade:
The story is based on a top ten list of “ridiculous research” sent out by an animal rights group. These kinds of lists come out each year to coincide with the animal rights week.
The most disappointing thing about articles like this is that the reporter fails to ask the most important question. Is it true?
In regards to this list, we quickly learned that the group’s “summary” of the research (the effects of jazz on cocaine-addicted rats) wasn’t exactly spot on.
Here’s an excerpt from an editorial in the Times Union Newspaper in Albany, New York which took the time to investigate.
Frankly, when we first caught wind of this research topic, we were ready to give it a righteous skewering. As it turns out, it’s fascinating, important work.
The idea was to study how certain stimuli trigger the urge to relapse into addictive behavior. In this case, rats were given cocaine while music was playing to associate the music and the high. After the rats were taken off the drug, the music was played and their responses and bodily reactions studied.
The research, funded with about $1.4 million in grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, was headed by Dr. Stanley Glick, director of the Center for Neuropharmacology and Neuroscience at Albany Medical Center. Dr. Glick found that when the music associated with their drug use was played, the rats’ chemical and behavioral reactions showed indications of cravings.
While there has been research into such “cues,” it has used stimuli such as flashing lights or patterns of tones — not exactly real-world examples. Music, however, is a cue people would certainly experience on or off drugs.
The value of the research isn’t just in affirming the power of cues, a phenomenon well known to smokers who get a craving from morning coffee and alcoholics who learn to avoid old haunts and old drinking buddies. It can also help in the search for medicines that can block the effect of such cues.
Ah, but you wouldn’t know that from the press release from In Defense of Animals, a group that opposes animal research. Its list of “ridiculous, wasteful” government-funded experiments, released on the day when Americans’ taxes were due, boiled down Albany Med’s research to this: “Rats Find Miles Davis is Better with Cocaine.”