After set-up, EthoVision XT is ready to follow the movement, activity, and behavior of your animal. In other words, you can start tracking and detecting activity. In addition, you can also manually add events or automatically score behavior.
Tracking body points
EthoVision XT can track in two different ways: it either tracks the center of gravity of the animal or the nose point, center point, and tail base of the animal. The first method is suitable for any kind of animal, the latter was developed for rats and mice. The added accuracy of multiple body points tracking is useful in studies such as novel object recognition and social interaction.
Tracking the nose point and tail base requires the Multiple Body Points Module.
In addition to video tracking of your animal, EthoVision XT can also detect activity. This means that the software detects changes at pixel level from one frame to the next. This is useful to study specific behaviors such as freezing. You can use both a top and a side view camera position.
Another great advantage of activity detection is that it even works in situations where detection is difficult due to poor lighting or little difference in contrast between the color of the animal and the background color (such as light animals on a light background or dark animals on a dark background).
EthoVision XT starts tracking as soon as you click the button in the acquisition screen of the software. But you might want the actual trial to start after certain conditions are met. This is what Trial Control is for; it gives you the option to set start and stop conditions based on the animal’s behavior or on timing. For example, start tracking four seconds after the animal is detected in the arena, and stop 10 minutes after that. You can use a similar approach to control external equipment (such as light and sound) to fully automate your research. Read more about how to use EthoVision XT as an integration platform here.
Batch acquisition means that you can acquire a series of trials at one push of a button. You can line up your video files and let EthoVision XT do the rest. You don’t have to come back and start each trial separately. You can even let it run overnight!
When you are working with a live video feed, you don’t have to start each trial manually, either. Use EthoVision XT to automatically acquire a series of trials, according to your predefined settings, from a live video feed.
With EthoVision XT, you can track in multiple arenas simultaneously. Either place the cages or mazes side by side under one camera, or record from up to four different video sources without the need for additional software or hardware. This means you do not need to place your cages (arenas) in a grid and the resulting image is of higher resolution, allowing you to track in more detail.
Batch acquisition, series of trials from a live video feed, and tracking from up to 4 video sources are all recent improvements in EthoVision XT that were designed to make your experiment run more smoothly. Read more about these features here.
In addition to gathering tracking and activity data, you can also use EthoVision XT to annotate behavioral events. In fact, the software offers two options: a manual event recorder with which you define behaviors and score them during the acquisition phase, and automatic behavior recognition (currently available for rat behavior). Of course, behavioral events are just as much part of the data as the rest, so you can integrate them into data selection, analysis, visualization, and export.
Other data streams
Besides the tracking, activity, and behavioral events data that are gathered with EthoVision XT, you can also integrate external data streams, such as physiology. This feature is part of the new External Data Module. Read more about it here.