Behaviors in rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) associated with activity counts measured by accelerometer.

Abstract There are large individual differences in the daily pattern and level of physical activity in humans and other species. As it is becoming apparent that activity plays an integral role in a number of physiological processes including arousal, attention, cardiovascular health and body weight regulation, there is an increased interest in quantifying activity. Nonhuman primates are particularly useful experimental models for such studies in that they exhibit a repertoire of activity more similar to humans than the activity of animals such as rodents and domestic animals. Recent studies measuring activity in nonhuman primates have used omnidirectional accelerometers, often worn on collars; however, the exact behaviors and movements detected by monkeys wearing these devices have not yet been characterized. To test the hypothesis that collar-worn accelerometers primarily detect movements that involve movement of the whole body, 16 adult female rhesus monkeys, housed individually in stainless steel cages, wore loose-fitting collars with an attached small metal box housing an activity monitor (Actical omnidirectional accelerometer; MiniMitter Inc., Bend, OR) and behavior was videotaped. Videotaped behaviors were analyzed by frame-by-frame analysis. There was a significant correlation between total (all) movement revealed by videotape analysis and activity counts detected by the accelerometers (r(s)=0.612, P=0.012), primarily reflecting a strong correlation between whole body movement and activity counts (r(s)=0.647, P=0.007). In contrast, arm movement (r(s)=-0.221, P=0.412) and head/neck movement (r(s)=0.193, P=0.474) were not correlated with activity counts. These findings support the hypothesis that activity monitor placement on a collar allows for effective quantification of whole body movement in monkeys, and indicate that behaviors such as chewing and arm movement do not significantly influence activity recorded by collar-mounted accelerometers.