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Dr. Antonino Calapai

Postdoctoral Scientist

Cognitive Neurosciences Laboratory

+49 551 3851-345


Kellnerweg 4
37077 Göttingen


Design, develop, deploy technologies and approaches to perform cognitive assessment and provide cognitive enrichment, enhancing primate welfare.

This approach addresses the need of cognitive stimulation often found in individuals living in captive settings. By harnessing the power of interactive digital platforms (e.g., autonomous touchscreen stystems) and of machine-learning, as well as the adaptive nature of gamified approaches, I design, develop, and deploy game-like activities for non-human primates that promote cognitive welfare, foster agency and competence, as well as emotional and psychological well-being. Since I believe that cognitive well-being is fundamental, I aspire to have, through my work, a significant and long-lasting positive impact on how animals are kept in captivity.

I was born in Messina, Sicily and I did my Bachelors in Neuropsychology at the University of Turin and a Master in Neurosciences and Neuropsychological Rehabilitation at the University of Bologna.

I moved to Germany to do my PhD in Systems Neuroscience at the Göttingen Graduate Center for Neurosciences, Biophysics, and Molecular Biosciences under the supervision of Prof. Stefan Treue. Here, I acquired single unit activity from various macaque visual cortical areas; I conducted human psychophics experiments, as well as cage-based cognitive testing and training of non-human primates.

I carried out my first postdoc at the Institute for Auditory Neuroscience, University Medical Center in Goettingen with Prof. Tobias Moser and Dr. Marcus Jeschke. Here, I developed an autonomous cage-based device for common marmosets, optimized for auditory neuroscience.

At present, I am conducting a postdoc in the Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory at the German Primate Center in Göttingen. My current work focus on developing: 

  1. 3Rs compatible autonomous cognitive assessment and enrichment devices and protocols for non-human primates in captivity; 
  2. machine-learning approaches for gaze estimation and autonomous behavioral tracking of non-human primates in large social settings;
  3. gamification of human visual psychophysics for motion perception and decision-making in dyadic settings.

More details can be found in my CV.

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Calapai A, Pfefferle D, Cassidy LC, Nazari A, Yurt P, Brockhausen R, Treue S (2023) A touchscreen-based, multiple-choice approach to cognitive enrichment of captive rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) Animals 13(17), 2702
DOI: 10.3390/ani13172702


Hansmeyer L, Yurt P, Agha N, Trunk A, Berger M, Calapai A, Treue S*, Gail A* (2023) Home-enclosure based behavioral and wireless neural recording setup for unrestrained rhesus macaques. eNeuro, 10(1)
DOI: 10.1523/ENEURO.0285-22.2022


Yurt P, Calapai A, Mundry R, Treue S (2022) Assessing cognitive flexibility in humans and rhesus macaques with visual motion and neutral distractors. Frontiers in Psychology, 13:1047292
DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.1047292


Cabrera-Moreno J, Jeanson L, Jeschke M, Calapai A (2022) Group-based, autonomous, individualized training and testing of long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) in their home enclosure to a visuo-acoustic discrimination task. Frontiers in Psychology. 13:1047242
DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2022-1047242 


Calapai A, Cabrera-Moreno J, Moser T, and Jeschke M (2022) Flexible auditory training, psychophysics, and enrichment of common marmosets with an automated, touchscreen-based system. Nature Communication, 13, 1648
DOI: 10.1038/s4146022-29185-9 


Xue C, Calapai A, Krumbiegel J, Treue S (2020) Sustained spatial attention accounts for the direction bias of human microsaccades. Scientific Reports10(1), 1-10
DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-77455-7


Berger M, Calapai A, Stephan V, Niessing M, Burchardt L, Gail A, Treue S (2018) 
Standardized automated training of rhesus monkeys for neuroscience research in their housing environment
Journal of Neurophysiology 119(3), 796-807. DOI: 10.1152/jn.00614.2017


Calapai A, Berger M, Niessing M, Heisig K, Brockhausen R, Treue S, Gail A (2017)
A cage-based training, cognitive testing and enrichment system optimized for Rhesus Macaques in neuroscience research.
Behavior Research Methods 49(1): 35-45. DOI: 10.3758/s13428-016-0707-3

Flexible auditory training, psychophysics, and enrichment of common marmosets with an automated, touchscreen-based system

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