Description

The Activity System is an automated system used to observe, record, and analyze rodents’ locomotor and behavioral activity levels. The Activity System consists of an open field box, surrounded by an outer area divided into quadrants with the activity integration that reports the animal location. It is an adapted version of the Open Field arena and Hole Board apparatus and also includes sensors for recording and software for analyzing rodents’ behavior.  It can measure the subject’s locomotion, behavioral activity levels, anxiety, thigmotaxis, and working and reference memory and also can be used to assess the effect of age on locomotion, neuromuscular abnormalities of genetically modified animals, the effect of therapeutic interventions on locomotion and behavior, etc.

Maze Engineers offers the Activity System.

Mouse

$ 2900

Per MonthPlus Software: $595

Rat

$ 3490

Per MonthPlus Software: $595

How it works

Specifications

Activities: report the animal location. 

  • When a jump occurs, it reports (X, Y, 1), where 1<= X, Y <=18. 
  • If there is a (X, Y) change, it reports new location (X, Y, Z) where Z is 0 or 1. If Z=0, the animal moves without jump; if Z=1, the animal moves while in jump position.
  • The X and Y data ranges from 0-18 as displayed UI. If the user wants to find the actual location on physical board, the (X, Y) values need to be scaled to the physical dimension. The board physical dimension is 60 x 60 cm for rats and 40 x 40 cm for mice by default.
  • Click Export button next to the grid to export the activity data to a .csv file

Jump Chart: the user can choose a time interval and click Draw Chart button

  • This analysis is broken the total time into “time bins”, say 10 seconds in our example chart, to illustrate the progression and change in loco-motor activity over the total time period. The chart shows (time, count) points. Using 10 seconds as an example, chart point (10, 3) indicates that animal jumps 3 times during (0, 10] period, chart point (20, 5) indicates that animal jumps 5 times during (10, 20] period, etc.
  • It is common the time bins are 180 seconds for an experiment run of 30 minutes or 60 minutes
  • Click export button to export the chart data to a .csv file.

Animal Path: It is a visual drawing of the activity data

Documentation

Introduction

The Activity System is an automated system used to observe, record, and analyze rodents’ locomotor and behavioral activity levels. The system is an adapted version of the Open Field arena and Hole Board apparatus and also includes software for analyzing rodents’ behavior. It can report the animal’s location and records when an animal moves with a jump and without a jump. Moreover, the experimenter can set a time interval for recording the number of jumps in a given time period, which is illustrated in a “Jump Chart”. The software also provides a visual illustration of the animal’s locomotion during each trial. 

The open-field arena is a widely used apparatus for assessing rodents’ locomotion, exploratory behavior, and anxiety. The hole board apparatus is also used to assess exploratory behaviors in rodents but also assesses working and reference memory. The activity system combines both apparatuses and includes software for analyzing and measuring rodents’ behavior, which helps save time from manual observation and analysis. The holes in the activity system floor also include sensors to record which hole the subject pokes its nose, and the duration of the nose pokes. 

The activity system can effectively be used as an in vivo locomotion assay for various experiments. It can be used to assess the effect of age on locomotion behavior, neuromuscular abnormality of genetically modified animals, anxiety-related behaviors on behavioral activity levels, neurodegenerative diseases on working and reference memory, and the effect of therapeutic interventions on locomotion and behavior. 

Apparatus and Equipment

The Activity System comprises an open field arena. It is available with separate measurements for rats and mice. It measures 60 × 60 × 40 cm (L × W × H) for rats and 40 × 40 × 30 cm for mice. The floor of the arena contains 16 holes spaced evenly apart. The diameter for each hole is 3 cm for rats and 2 cm for mice. The sensor’s height within each hole is adjustable. The walls of the arena are made of plexiglass. 

It also includes software to measure and record the animal’s location and make a visual drawing of the activity data. 

 

Installation 

  • Install and Run the Application 

Install the application in the C drive of your computer in the folder 

  •  C:\MazeEngineers\appConductActivity\bin
  • Double click on C:\MazeEngineers\appConductActivity\bin\MazeOriginWpf.exe


  • Activity connections to computer 

2.1 Activity box connection 

  • Connect the activity box to your computer using a USB cable. 
  • A port will show on the Device Manager once its connected. However, if the device is not shown in the Ports section, it will show in another section. This occurs if the computer cannot find the driver for the hardware device. Therefore, you will need to install the included driver that comes with the apparatus. 
  • Connect to the Passive hardware once your computer recognizes it. 

 

2.2 Connections Status 

  • Click on the Comport Status panel on the right panel of the Device Manager.
  • Choose the comport that matches the one on the device manager for the Passive box.
  • Click on the Connect button. 
  • The comport Status field will change, and the background will become green if the connection occurs. 
  • Select the right comports for the chamber box and the shocker.

 

  • Experiment Configuration 

The application provides a user interface for configuring and running experiments (protocols) and seeing the results of those studies.

3.1 New Experiment

  • Right-click on “All Activity Protocols” in the left panel to create an experiment protocol.
  • Select New from the menu. A “New Experiment” window will show. Fill in a name for the experiment and then click the Save button.
  • The experiment will appear in the folder “All Activity Protocols” once it has been created.
  • Right-click on an experimental protocol to delete it.

3.2 Configure Parameters 

  • Double click on the protocol under the folder “All Activity Protocols” to configure an experiment protocol. 
  • The content of the protocol displays on the tab “Activity Protocol”.

Total Time: The total time of the experiment session is represented in seconds

 

  • Experiment Run 

Select the experiment you want to run under “All Activity Protocols” on the left navigation panel and double click on it. Properly establish communication and ensure the avoidance box is connected to the computer.

 

4.1 Run Experiment

Name the experiment run and click the start button.

 

The experiment run will show the current result summary, report the animal’s location, can be used to select a time interval for recording animal jumps, and visualize the animal’s path. 

 

4.2. Experiment Result 

View the execution states at any time from your computer. The jump chart data and activity grid data can be exported to a .csv file. 

 

  • Troubleshooting

The Log folder under your deployment folder will contain the log file C:\MazeEngineers\appActivity\bin\Log

Training Protocol

  • Place the subjects in the testing room in their home cages for 10 – 30 minutes to acclimate. 
  • Configure the software and set the primary data collection parameters.
  • Remove the subject from its home cage and place it in the activity system once the software is configured. 
  • Select the appropriate command in the software and begin data collection.
  • Leave the testing room for the rest of the testing duration.
  • After the testing period is completed, return to the room and save the data. 
  • Return the subject to its home cage. 

Literature Review

Analysis of Locomotor Activity in Rodents 

Zhang, Li, and Han (2020) analyzed the locomotor activity of mice using an activity system. The system comprised an open field, a webcam, and a computer with software. The distance traveled, velocity, and thigmotaxis of the animals were readily obtained using the apparatus. 

Aragão et al. (2011) analyzed locomotor activity in rodents using an automated activity system. The system consisted of an open field with 30 cm high walls. It utilized digital images captured under infrared red of freely moving rodents to measure their activity. Moreover, videos of the rodents were analyzed using the software. Fifteen male Wistar rats were used in the study. The distance traveled, average speed, average potency, time spent immobile, number of stops, and length of stay in the area of the subjects within the apparatus were recorded. The animals were evaluated on multiple postnatal days to investigate the study’s reproducibility. The results indicated that all parameters were effectively measured using the system. Moreover, development changes in the patterns of movement in the subjects were also observed across postnatal days. 

Data Analysis

The following parameters can be observed using the Activity system:

  • Activity measurements, which report the animal’s location, including 
    • When a jump occurs
    • When the animal moves without a jump
    • When the animal moves while in the jump position
    • Number of times the animal jumped during a given duration 
  • Nose poke measurements, including 
    • The location of the hole in which the subject dipped its head
    • The sequence of head dips 
    • Duration of the head dip 

Summary

  • The Activity System is an automated system used to observe, record, and analyze rodents’ locomotor and behavioral activity levels.
  • It is an adapted version of the Open Field arena and Hole Board apparatus and also includes sensors for recording and software for analyzing rodents’ behavior. 
  • It can measure the subject’s locomotion, behavioral activity levels, anxiety, thigmotaxis, and working and reference memory.
  • The system can be used to assess the effect of age on locomotion, neuromuscular abnormalities of genetically modified animals, the effect of therapeutic interventions on locomotion and behavior etc. 

References

Aragão, R., Rodrigues, M. A., de Barros, K. M., Silva, S. R., Toscano, A. E., de Souza, R. E., & Manhães-de-Castro, R. (2011). Automatic system for analysis of locomotor activity in rodents–a reproducibility study. Journal of neuroscience methods195(2), 216–221. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jneumeth.2010.12.016

Zhang, C., Li, H., & Han, R. (2020). An open-source video tracking system for mouse locomotor activity analysis. BMC research notes13(1), 48. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13104-020-4916-6