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Automated monitoring and analysis of rodent behavior

Neurobehavioural analysis of mouse phenotypes requires the monitoring of mouse behaviour over long periods of time. We are currently developing trainable computer vision systems enabling the automated analysis of complex mouse behaviors.

Automated quantitative analysis of mouse behaviour will have a significant role in comprehensive phenotypic analyses — both on the small scale of detailed characterization of individual gene mutants and on the large scale of assigning gene function across the entire mouse genome. One key benefit of automating behavioural analysis arises from inherent limitations of human assessment, namely, cost, time and reproducibility. Although automation in and of itself is not a panacea for neurobehavioural experiments, it allows for addressing an entirely new set of questions about mouse behaviour and to conduct experiments on time scales that are orders of magnitude larger than those traditionally assayed. For example, reported tests of grooming behaviour span time scales of minutes, whereas an automated analysis will allow for analysis of this behaviour over hours or even days and weeks.

We have developed software for an initial trainable, general-purpose, automated and potentially high-throughput system for the behavioral analysis of mice in their home cage. Developed from a computational model of motion processing in the primate visual cortex, the computer system is trained with labelled examples with manually annotated behaviours of interest and used to automatically analyse new recordings containing hours of freely behaving animals. As a proof of concept, we trained the system on common mouse behaviors and demonstrated that the resulting system performs on par with humans for the scoring of these behaviors.

  • H. Jhuang, E. Garrote, X. Yu, V. Khilnani, T. Poggio and A. Steele and T. Serre. Automated home-cage behavioral phenotyping of mice. In: Nature Communications. 1(1), doi:10.1038/ncomms1064, 2010
  • M.P. Leussis, E.M. Berry-Scott, H. Jhuang, M. Saito, K. Ilsley, T. Poggio, P. Sklar, T. Serre and T.L. Petryshen. Role of Ankyrin 3 in regulating bipolar-related behaviors. World Congress on Psychiatric Genetics, 2011
  • S. Pandian, N. Edelman, H. Jhuang, T. Serre, T. Poggio and M. Constantine-Paton. An automated action initiation system reveals behavioral deficits in MyosinVa deficient mice. SFN, Nov. 2010

Brown faculty collaborators:

Christopher Moore
Kevin Bath

Other project collaborators:

Hueihan Jhuang (MPI)
Tracey Petryshen (Broad Institute)
Tomaso Poggio (MIT)
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Research at Brown: Thomas Serre: Automated monitoring and analysis of rodent behavior
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