New Ads Slam Horrific ‘Junk Science’ at National Institute of Mental Health

PETA Targets The Washington Times, The Hill, and Roll Call Readers With Ad Pushing for End to Worthless and Cruel Psychological Tests on Animals

For Immediate Release:
October 21, 2019

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382


This week, new PETA ads are alerting readers of The Washington Times, The Hill, and Roll Call to the National Institute of Mental Health’s (NIMH) “shocking,” “cruel,” and “junk science” psychological experiments that fail to shed light on human depression, squander taxpayer funds, and waste animals’ lives.

“Nearly drowning mice, electrically shocking them, and crudely suspending them upside down is junk science that teaches us nothing about human depression,” says PETA Vice President Shalin Gala. “PETA is calling on NIMH to stop misusing taxpayer dollars on these hideous animal experiments, which experts agree are less accurate than a coin toss in assessing the effectiveness of antidepressant medications.”

In the widely discredited forced swim (or “despair”) test, mice, rats, or other small animals are placed in inescapable beakers filled with water and must swim frantically to keep from drowning. In the tail suspension test, mice are hung upside down by their tails, which are taped to a bar. In the foot shock test, mice or rats are locked inside a chamber that has an electrified grid floor and shocked.

A groundbreaking new NIMH-funded study published in the leading scientific journal Nature should sound the death knell for the use of mice and other animals in cruel depression experiments. In the study, 64 researchers analyzed the brains of mice and humans and found substantial species differences in types of brain cells and the ways they produce proteins critical to neuropsychiatric function. The authors noted numerous “failures in the use of [the] mouse for preclinical studies” because of “so many [species] differences in the cellular patterning of genes.”

In response to PETA’s pressure on NIMH Director Joshua Gordon to drop these archaic psychological torture tests on animals, he told Nature, “The National Institute of Mental Health has for some time been discouraging the use of certain behavioral assays, including the forced swim and tail suspension test, as models of depression.” He added, “[T]hese tests in particular are recognized by many scientists as lacking sufficient mechanistic specificity to be of general use in clarifying the neurobiological mechanisms underlying human depression.”

Thousands of PETA supporters, along with U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle, are pressing Gordon to end the use of animals in these taxpayer-funded experiments completely and instead use superior, human-relevant, non-animal research methods to address the nation’s mental health crisis.

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