February 12, 2017
Dr. Ewelina Knapska from the Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology in Warsaw, Poland has shared the following regarding Eco-HAB, an RFID-based system for automated tracking:
Eco-HAB is an open source, RFID-based system for automated measurement and analysis of social preference and in-cohort sociability in mice. The system closely follows murine ethology. It requires no contact between a human experimenter and tested animals, overcoming the confounding factors that lead to irreproducible assessment of murine social behavior between laboratories. In Eco-HAB, group-housed animals live in a spacious, four-compartment apparatus with shadowed areas and narrow tunnels, resembling natural burrows. Eco-HAB allows for assessment of the tendency of mice to voluntarily spend time together in ethologically relevant mouse group sizes. Custom-made software for automated tracking, data extraction, and analysis enables quick evaluation of social impairments. The developed protocols and standardized behavioral measures demonstrate high replicability. Unlike classic three-chambered sociability tests, Eco-HAB provides measurements of spontaneous, ecologically relevant social behaviors in group-housed animals. Results are obtained faster, with less manpower, and without confounding factors.
Puścian, A., Łęski, S., Kasprowicz, G., Winiarski, M., Borowska, J., Nikolaev, T., … Knapska, E. (2016). Eco-HAB as a fully automated and ecologically relevant assessment of social impairments in mouse models of autism. eLife, 5, e19532. https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.19532
The Feeding Experimentation Device (FED) is a free, open-source system for measuring food intake in rodents. FED uses an Arduino processor, a stepper motor, an infrared beam detector, and an SD card to record time-stamps of 20mg pellets eaten by singly housed rodents. FED is powered by a battery, which allows it to be placed in colony caging or within other experimental equipment. The battery lasts ~5 days on a charge, providing uninterrupted feeding records over this duration. The electronics for building each FED cost around $150USD, and the 3d printed parts cost between $20 and $400, depending on access to 3D printers and desired print quality.
The Kravitz lab has published a large update of their Feeding Experimentation Device (FED) to their Github site (https://github.com/KravitzLab/fed), including updated 3D design files that print more easily and updates to the code to dispense pellets more reliably. Step-by-step build instructions are available here: https://github.com/KravitzLab/fed/wiki
The openBehavior github repository from Hao Chen’s lab at UTHSC aims to establish a computing platform for rodent behavior research using the Raspberry Pi computer. They have buillt several devices for conducting operant conditioning and monitoring enviornmental data.
The operant licking device can be placed in a standard rat home cage and can run fixed ratio, various ratio, or progressive ratio schedules. A preprint describing this project, including data on sucrose vs water intake is available. Detailed instructions for making the device is also provided.
The environment sensor can record the temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, and illumination at fixed time intervals and automatically transfer the data to a remote server.
There is also a standard alone RFID reader for the EM4100 implantable glass chips, a motion sensor addon for standard operant chambers, and several other devices.
ArduiPod Box is a simple, comprehensive touchscreen-based operant conditioning chamber that utilizes an iPod Touch in conjunction with an Arduino microcontroller to present visual and auditory stimuli, record behavior in the form of nose-pokes or screen touches, and deliver liquid reward. In his 2014 paper, Oskar Pineño introduces ArduinoPod Box and demonstrates the use of the device in a visual discrimination task.
ArduiPod Box relies on an open-source iOS app named Shaping that can be downloaded for free at the iTunes store, as well as, on Dr. Pineno’s website. Detailed instructions for assembly of the ArduiPod Box are also detailed on the website. In addition, video demonstrating of ArduiPod can be found here.
Pineño, Oskar (2014). ArduiPod Box: a low-cost and open-source Skinner box using an iPod Touch and an Arduino microcontroller. Behav Res Methods. 46(1): 196–205
The Rodent Operant Bucket (ROBucket), designed by Dr. Alexxai Kravitz and Kavya Devarakonda of the Eating and Addiction Section, Diabetes Endocrinology and Obesity Branch, NIDDK, is an inexpensive and easily assembled open-source operant chamber, based on the Arduino microcontroller platform, that can be used to train mice to respond for a reward.
The apparatus contains two nose pokes, a drinking well, and a solenoid-controlled sucrose delivery system. The chamber can easily run magazine training, fixed ratio and progressive ratio training schedules, and can be programmed to run more complicated behavioral paradigms.
In their 2016 paper, “ROBucket: A low cost operant chamber based on the Arduino microcontroller,” Kavya Devarakonda, Katrina P. Nguyen, and Alexxai V. Kravitz validate ROBucket by demonstrating its application in an operant conditioning paradigm, as well as, detail the hardware comprising ROBucket, and the flexible software controlling it.
Further documentation of this device can be found on the NIDDK website, where Dr. Kravitz and his lab share ROBucket construction instructions, ROBucket design files, ROBucket source code, and 3D printing design files.
Kavya Devarakonda, Katrina P. Nguyen, Alexxai V. Kravitz (2016). ROBucket: A low cost operant chamber based on the Arduino microcontroller. Behav Res Methods 48(2): 503–509.