Navigation Links
Computer-based video analysis boosts data gathering in behavioral studies

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] For decades, carefully logging data about how mice go through the motions of their daily routines has been a tedious staple of behavioral and neuroscience research:

  • Hour 2, minute 27: mouse 4 is sleeping;
  • Hour 3, minute 12: mouse 7 is eating;

and so on. It's a task most people would happily cede to automation. Now, says Thomas Serre, assistant professor of cognitive, linguistic and psychological sciences at Brown University, that's finally possible.

In a paper to be published online Sept. 7, 2010, in the journal Nature Communications, Serre and a team of colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and California Institute of Technology describe a new computer system that is as accurate as people in identifying mouse behaviors in videos. What's more, the team is making the fully customizable open-source software available for free. Given standard camcorder footage of a mouse, the software will automatically identify a mouse's behavior frame by frame.

"We measured the agreement [on mouse behaviors] between any two human observers and it was more than 70 percent," said Serre, who joined the Brown faculty in January 2010 after conducting his doctoral and postdoctoral studies, including the work described in the paper, at MIT. "The system agreed with humans at the same level. There was no significant difference between the annotations provided by our system and any two human observers."

The value of the software is not only that it could relieve graduate students and lab technicians from some boredom. It takes about 25 person-hours to fully annotate an hour of mouse movies. In a small experiment with 10 mice who are each observed for 5 hours, that's 1,250 person-hours of work. Because it is computerized, the system might also provide less subjective annotations than a human team would and could therefore be less susceptible to bias.

There are a few commercial programs on the market, some of which cost thousands of dollars, Serre says. They mostly base their behavioral coding on sensors, rather than video, and therefore have agreement rates with human observers of around 60 percent, substantially lower than the rates between people or between people and the system reported in the paper.

Mimicking the brain

Although feats of artificial perception that compare to real perception are notable, it should not be a surprise that the system matches human levels of observation. It is, after all, based on a computer model of how the human brain interprets what it sees.

"It's mimicking what the visual system does when you process motion," Serre says.

In addition, the system learns from experience. To train it to detect grooming behavior, for example, the researchers fed the system lots of videos of mice grooming themselves and certified what the behavior was so the system would know. From there the software was able to identify new scenes of grooming without any coaching. In the paper, the team shows that the software is capable of performing the chore even in different strains of mice in a variety of lighting and other conditions.

Serre says the software is likely to be easy to train to work with other lab animals.

At least for mice, the software is essentially ready to go for use in lab experiments, says Kevin Bath, a neuroscience researcher, who was not involved in developing the software. In his work, studying models of obsessive-compulsive disorder in mice, reviewing videos of the rodents is the daily grind.

"It would be fabulous," he said. "It makes productivity much greater. You can actually do a lot more behavioral analysis and get a lot more complex behavioral characterizations of the animals without the need for people spending significant amounts of time going back and coding."

In a recent study Bath co-authored on obsessive-compulsive mice, he investigated a propensity for extreme overgrooming that develops over time. Key questions included when does the uptick in grooming behavior start, how much more grooming is going on, and do certain drugs reduce the behavior.

To keep the research manageable, the team only coded minute-by-minute behavior for half-hour episodes four times a day for each mouse. With the system co-developed by Serre, Bath says, they could record and analyze full days of footage providing much richer data.

To do that without a computer would require a certain amount of obsession in its own right.


Contact: David Orenstein
Brown University

Related biology news :

1. Coming soon: Self-guided, computer-based depression treatment
2. Full-Featured Video Analytics Platform Available in Smart Camera Format
3. Salient Stills Notches Significant Advances in Profitability, Diversity of Sales and Customers, and Video Forensics Technology in 2008
4. VeriLook Surveillance SDK Provides Real-Time Face Identification Using Video Surveillance Cameras
5. VeriLook Surveillance SDK Provides Real-Time Face Identification Using Video Surveillance Cameras
6. ChloroFilms announces video contest winners
7. Pediatric carbon monoxide poisoning linked to video games after Hurricane Ike
8. Groundbreaking Videourology journal launched by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.
9. Video gamers: Size of brain structures predicts success
10. Caught on tape: Muscle stem cells captured on video by MU researcher
11. Tsunami video sheds light on struggling pupfish
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/16/2015)... Calif. , Nov 16, 2015  Synaptics ... of human interface solutions, today announced expansion of ... TouchView ™ touch controller and display driver ... revolution of smartphones. These new TDDI products add ... TD4100 (HD resolution), TD4302 (WQHD resolution), and TD4322 ...
(Date:11/10/2015)... 10, 2015  In this report, the ... of product, type, application, disease indication, and ... report are consumables, services, software. The type ... biomarkers, efficacy biomarkers, and validation biomarkers. The ... diagnostics development, drug discovery and development, personalized ...
(Date:11/2/2015)... 2, 2015  SRI International has been awarded a ... development services to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) PREVENT ... scientific expertise, modern testing and support facilities, and analytical ... and toxicology studies to evaluate potential cancer prevention drugs. ... PREVENT Cancer Drug Development Program is an NCI-supported pipeline ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... , Nov. 24, 2015  Asia-Pacific (APAC) holds ... organisation (CRO) market. The trend of outsourcing to ... margins but higher volume share for the region ... scale, however, margins in the CRO industry will ... Market ( ), finds that the ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... , Nov. 24, 2015 Cepheid (NASDAQ: ... be speaking at the following conference, and invited investors ... York, NY      Tuesday, December 1, 2015 at ... York, NY      Tuesday, December 1, 2015 at ... Healthcare Conference, New York, NY ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 2015 /CNW/ - iCo Therapeutics ("iCo" or "the Company") ... for the quarter ended September 30, 2015. Amounts, ... and presented under International Financial Reporting Standards ("IFRS"). ... said Andrew Rae , President & CEO ... not only value enriching for this clinical program, ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... , ... November 24, 2015 , ... ... of the year and one of the premier annual events for pharmaceutical manufacturing: ... from 8–11 November 2015, where ISPE hosted the largest number of attendees in ...
Breaking Biology Technology: