The ANY-maze Behavior Tracking Software is a sophisticated video-tracking system for recording animal activity and movement during behavioral tests. MazeEngineers mazes integrate into Anymaze, please inquire for case by case scenarios to ensure customization.

Beyond video-tracking, ANY-maze is also equipped with an experiment management system and the protocol-setting feature that provides comprehensive control over the experimental process. Other features include:

  • Define the apparatus and set zones and areas of interest
  • Define simple and complex sequences of movement that the software can accurately detect
  • Connect with a wide array of devices for use in the apparatus, enabling control of pellet dispensers, opening maze doors, etc

Anymaze Integration

Introduction

Conducting large-scale behavioral tests have benefited greatly from advancements in the video-tracking technology with enhanced accuracy, efficiency, and convenience. The ANY-maze Behavior Tracking Software is a flexible, sophisticated, and easy-to-use video-tracking software that is one of the most widely used programs among scientists and researchers today. Compared to the manual scoring of data by researchers in real time, automated tracking by ANY-maze provides accuracy in different dimensions of measurement such as location, specificity of behavior, and recorded time; efficiency in tracking more than one animal at a time; and convenience through a well-designed program that one can easily learn to navigate.

 

ANY-maze’s versatility is arguably its best feature, inspiring its name. The software can be used in any maze or experimental design, including water mazes, plus mazes, T-maze, light-dark boxes, and so on because it is easily programmable to be effective in specific contexts. This is because the software does not predefine the apparatus beforehand–instead, users are given the power to define the apparatus, draw its sections, and divide it into different areas and zones of interest. Users can also define simple and complex sequences of movement that the program is well-equipped to detect. Additionally, it can provide complete control of the experimental set-up at a heightened level of connectivity to devices commonly used in behavioral tests. The software can enable such commands as switching on lights, dispensing pellets, playing sounds, and operating syringe pumps. The reliability of ANY-maze tracking also shines through in poor conditions such as in low-light, low-contrast environments, and video rendering. It can track from pre-recorded video files or in real time, getting input from up to 16 cameras.

 

Most importantly, ANY-maze is designed to work as researchers do. The software is equipped with a sophisticated experiment management system that can keep track of numerous schedules at any time. And, because ANY-maze is meant to understand the whole experiment and not just specific behavioral tests, it can analyze the results of experiments, present them in many different ways, and compare them with other experiments. The key to maximizing these benefits is for users to learn how to define their experiments concisely. With these features, the software goes beyond video tracking and provides an integrative hold on the entirety of the experimental process.

Equipment and Set-Up

The first step to working with ANY-maze is to install the software on your laptop or computer successfully. Users must take note of the digitizer and driver software requirements for both camera and computer. ANY-maze can work with different camera types, including USB cameras, FireWire cameras, DV camcorders, and network cameras. It is important to note that a licensed copy of the software is required to record data.

Setting up the Equipment

  1. Mount the camera. Carefully mount the camera over the apparatus. It is recommended that the camera is mounted perpendicular to the apparatus and not at an angle. Make sure it is securely kept in place and will not vibrate or move around during tests. Take test image captures to make sure it is placed in the right position.
  2. Adjust the lighting. Take note that in the case of water mazes, reflections from the water surface can cause problems with the tracking.

Setting up the Software

  1. Create a file. In ANY-maze, a file corresponds to one experiment.
  2. Set-up the protocol. The protocol feature in ANY-maze refers to the experimental protocol, which educates about the technical aspects of how the experiment shall be performed. The information includes which camera shows your apparatus, what part of the image shows certain parts of the apparatus, how long tests should last, and so on. Protocols can be saved and reused in future experiments.
    1. Name the protocol.
    2. Add a video source.
    3. Add the apparatus and draw the apparatus map.
    4. Add zones and areas of interest.
    5. Set the animal color.
    6. Set the test duration.
    7. Save the protocol.
  3. Set-up the experiment. In this step, users shall input the different treatment groups, the number of animals they contain, and other important experiment details in the program.
  4. Run the tests. Through the experiment management pane, users can schedule which tests to run. The apparatus pane is meanwhile used to perform individual tests in the apparatus. When the test starts, ANY-maze will indicate the position of the animal with an orange dot.

Using the Software to Gather Data

Even before going through arduous setting-up procedures, ANY-maze can automatically track the center of the animal, but it can also be set up to track the head, tail, or the whole body. After the initial experiment setup, the software is ready to track animals and gather data. Every aspect of data gathering can be configured, including:

  • Tracking of different body points. These include an animal’s center of gravity, head, or tail.
  • Automatically starting and ending tests. ANY-maze can automatically start a test when the experimenter leaves the camera’s view. Defining events meanwhile allows the software to end a test when a certain event occurs, such as when the animal finds the island in a water maze.
  • Immobility detection. This can be reported when an animal freezes or remains immobile for a period of time.
  • These define large areas of interest. For instance, users can set the border of the water maze as signs for thigmotaxis.
  • These define locations that you’re interested in. For instance, the placement of a novel object in the apparatus can be set.
  • Sequences. These analyze movements between areas. For instance, observing an animal’s spontaneous alternations in a Y-maze.

Manual keys. For behaviors that the apparatus might not be able to score automatically, users can designate keys on the keyboard that they can manually press while the behavior is being exhibited.

Modifications

Input and output switches. This feature allows users to get input from external sensors or control devices connected to the apparatus. For example, input switches can be used to detect the movements of animals that pass the photo-beam sensors. Output switches can give users control over light switches, buzzers, or maze doors.

Data Analysis

The ANY-maze software is programmed by researchers to understand the structure of the experiment and what it aims to achieve, and through this feature, it can easily analyze and interpret results at the click of a button. For instance, the software can examine the effect of treatment on the recorded time of maze completion. ANY-maze provides its users many options on how to view, analyze, and transfer test results.

Defining Measures

In ANY-maze, reports of test results show a minimal number of measures by default. But with the protocol-setting feature, users can include whatever measures are necessary for each experiment.

Analysis of Tests Across Time

In ANY-maze, tests can be divided into segments of equal duration, and analyze results for each one. The purpose of this feature is to examine how some measures vary across the course of the test. For instance, if the animal spends more time in a certain area of the apparatus at the start or the end of the test.

Choosing Report Styles and Statistical Analyses

After obtaining the data, ANY-maze gives users many options to view the results as text or as different types of graphs. Beyond merely presenting raw data, ANY-maze is also fully equipped to run statistical analysis, with more than 30 built-in statistical tests available in its cache, including ANOVA and T-tests. In the statistical analysis report, users set the independent variables, the dependent variable to be analyzed, and the parametric or non-parametric statistical test to be used.

Transferring Results to Other Programs

Users can transfer results from ANY-maze to other programs such as Microsoft Excel or SPSS through the data page, wherein reports or fragments of reports can be saved in a variety of formats suitable for almost all analysis programs.

Strengths and Limitations

The flexibility and versatility offered by ANY-maze software is currently unsurpassed. The software is easily programmable to work with different maze types and experimental designs. At its core, the software works the way researchers do. It is programmed with a comprehensive understanding of the experiment protocol, and what must be achieved with the apparatus. It gives its users the freedom to define the apparatus on their own terms, detect specific animal behaviors and sequences in particular zones and areas of interest, and follow schedules through a built-in, organized experiment management system. ANY-maze also works at a heightened level of connectivity, able to control a wide range of devices commonly used in behavioral tests such as light beams, pellet dispensers, buzzers, and maze doors.

However, given the wide array of scenarios that ANY-maze can work with, one possible limitation with using the software is the lessened level of sensitivity and specificity when it comes to detecting particular instances of animal behavior. This issue is curbed by the handy key feature, with which users can designate keys corresponding to specific behaviors for manual tracking.

Summary and Key Points

  • The ANY-maze Behavior Tracking Software is a flexible, sophisticated, and easy-to-use video-tracking software that is one of the most widely used programs among scientists and researchers today.
  • The software can be used in any maze or experimental design, including water mazes, plus mazes, T-maze, light-dark boxes, and so on.
  • Users are given the power to define the apparatus, draw its sections, and divide it into different areas and zones of interest, as well as define simple and complex sequences of movement that the program is well-equipped to detect.
  • It can provide complete control of the experimental set-up at a heightened level of connectivity to devices, and enable such commands as switching on lights, dispensing pellets, playing sounds, and operating syringe pumps.
  • It can track movement from pre-recorded video files or in real time, getting input from up to 16 cameras.
  • The software is equipped with a sophisticated experiment management system that can keep track of numerous schedules at any time.
  • ANY-maze can analyze the results of experiments, present them in many different ways, and compare them with other experiments.

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