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Behavioural Neuroscience

Volume 404: debated on Monday 28 April 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what the facilities will be for the accommodation and environmental enrichment of nonhuman primates at Cambridge University's proposed Centre for Behavioural Neuroscience; and if he will make a statement; [108731](2) if he will list the types of research that Cambridge University plans to conduct at the proposed Centre for Behavioural Neuroscience; and if he will make a statement; [108733](3) how the need for the Centre for Behavioural Neuroscience at Cambridge University was decided; whether a cost-benefit analysis was used; and if he will make a statement. [108732]

I have been asked to reply.The Department of Experimental Psychology at the University of Cambridge won an open competition for a share of the £750 million Joint Infrastructure Fund (JIF). 150 bids from across the UK and across a wide range of scientific disciplines were successful. Cost benefit analysis was not part of the review process; rather, all bids to the fund were reviewed by an international panel of experts on the basis of scientific excellence. The Cambridge neuroscience project was judged to be one of the best in the biosciences field. The announcement of the JIF award to the Cambridge project was made in a joint HEFCE-OST-Wellcome Trust press notice on 7 December 1999. For details of this announcement see: Centre has not yet been built and is still going through the planning programme. Ensuring that both the housing and the environment of the animals is of the highest quality is integral to the planning. The UK also has one of the most stringent regimes in the world for regulating animal research; animals can only be used in scientific procedures licensed by the Home Office under the Animal (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. The care and welfare of animals is closely regulated by this Act and Centres are routinely inspected to ensure that animals are treated humanely. This combination of planning and regulation will ensure that the Centre will operate under conditions providing the highest modern standards of animal welfare.Once complete, the Centre will improve the facilities for outstanding teams of researchers to carry out research into the causes and treatments of mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and neurological disorders such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases. Primates are an essential part of the work, as much of what we understand about the human brain derives from primate research. The exact nature of the research will depend on what type of research grants are obtained, but is likely to include non-invasive forms of brain imaging and behavioural testing of functions such as memory.