Bioelectric field sensor-equipped cage to continuously monitor animal behavior and measure physiological events such as respiratory and heart rate.
- Enables continuous monitoring of research animals to identify behavioral and physiological events in an automated and systematic manner.
- Non-contact monitoring in animal’s vivarium prevents introduction of handling biases during experimentation.
- Allows individual physio-behavioral states to be determined for each animal, potentially reducing inter-animal variability.
- Provides less expensive alternative to current industry standard.
A major bottleneck in behavioral research is variability in experimental outcomes. A number of factors can cause these variations including experimenter animal handling, differences in event quantification, and the physio-behavioral state of individual animals. Various animal monitoring systems have been developed that can automate the detection of behavioral events, but these solutions require the animal to be removed from their vivarium. In addition, they lack the sensitivity to accurately measure respiratory rate or heart rate in a non-invasive manner. Furthermore, these systems are expensive, preventing their widespread adoption.
Researchers at Emory have developed a wireless, electrical field monitoring system that can be integrated into a research animal’s vivarium. Utilizing this device, researchers were able to detect distinct behavioral events, such as sniffing, chewing, and rearing, as well as measure respiratory rate and heart rate from resting animals. Within the cage environment, the research team was able to monitor an animal for 14 consecutive hours with no experimenter intervention. Analytical software is being developed to identify and extract behavioral events as well as measurements for respiratory rates and heart rates. Together, the non-invasive monitoring device and software will allow for the full automation of behavioral experiments, removing variabilities encountered through researcher animal handling and different physio-behavioral states of individual animals.
- Prototype has been built and tested.
- Software to automatically extract behavioral and physiological events is under development.