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Computer-based video analysis boosts data gathering in behavioral studies
Date:9/7/2010

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 ob
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Contact: David Orenstein
david_orenstein@brown.edu
401-863-1862
Brown University
Source:Eurekalert

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