Gathering data

Once you have set-up your experiment, the animal is detected in the arena you specified, and you have made your trial list, you can start acquiring your data. Once detected, EthoVision XT automatically registers the coordinates of your animal as it moves through the arena. This is what we call tracking. 

EthoVision XT video tracking - data acquisition.

What are you tracking?

With EthoVision XT Base you can track the center point of your animal. Ideal for studies such as the Morris water maze

But if you want to acquire more data or more detailed data, you can add modules. For example, to track the nose point and tail base in addition to center point tracking, to track more than one animal in the same arena, or to track in multiple arenas simultaneously

Automatic recognition of rat behavior 

Traditionally, behaviors such as grooming, jumping, or rearing are scored by human observers. Training them takes time and observation itself is labor-intensive. Scoring five minutes of video can take up to an hour and of course, humans get tired. Automatic recognition of behaviors is the solution. EthoVision XT Rat Behavior Recognition recognizes the following behaviors automatically: eating, drinking, unsupported rearing, supported rearing, grooming, sniffing, resting, walking, jumping, and twitching. These behaviors are recognized accurately, consistently, and tirelessly. Read more. 

Series of trials from a live video feed

With EthoVision XT, you can acquire a series of trials automatically. After you have predefined a series in the trial list and the inter-trial interval, EthoVision XT will take care of the rest. 

Let’s take a water maze experiment as an example. Set EthoVision XT to start tracking as soon as the animal is detected in the arena for a total duration of 60 seconds. The inter-trial interval (for example, 10 minutes) gives you time to guide your animal to the platform if it did not find it, take away the animal, clean up, and place the next animal. Then the next trial will automatically start as soon as these two conditions have been met: the 10 minutes have passed and the animal is detected in the maze.   

Activity detection

In addition to tracking certain body points of your animal, you can also use activity detection. This allows you to analyze changes in the arena from one video frame to the next. This is ideal to study, for example, freezing behavior in rodents. 

 Another great advantage of activity detection is that it even works in situations where detection is difficult due to poor lighting or light animals on a light background (or dark animals on a dark background).

This video gives you some examples of how you can use activity detection and how it works.

Track from up to 4 video sources simultaneously

With EthoVision XT you can record in multiple arenas simultaneously. You can place multiple arenas under one camera, but you can also use separate cameras. You can record from up to four different video. When performing multiple arena tracking, you do not need to place your cages (arenas) in a grid anymore. Also, you are able to get a higher resolution and thus able to track in more detail. 

Variables

From the tracking data, in combination with the zones you have specified in arena definition, EthoVision XT calculates several variables and statistics, such as maximum and mean velocity, latency to enter a specific zone and time spent in that zone, etc. 

For more examples, see data analysis

 Trial control

Basically, EthoVision XT starts tracking when you tell it to by clicking the button in the acquisition screen of the software. But there are more ways to start and stop tracking, this is called Trial Control.

EthoVision XT provides the option to set start and stop conditions based on the animal’s behavior, or on time. This adds to the efficiency of your experiment. For example: start tracking as soon as the animal is detected in the arena, and stop 10 minutes after that. Or stop tracking when the animal reached the platform of a Morris water maze . You can also use these kinds of conditions to control external equipment when using the Trial and Hardware Control Module to fully automate your research.

This video shows you examples of Trial Control and Trial & Hardware Control.

Incorporate the operation of other software

Trial Control (EthoVision XT Base) also includes the option to incorporate external commands, meaning that you can use it to start and/or stop another application at a predefined moment in time. For example: start physiological data collection as soon as EthoVision XT starts tracking, or start a video on a screen next to your animal enclosure. 

Batch acquisition

Normally, you would have to start the tracking of each trial by clicking the start button in EthoVision XT. But if you have a lot of trials to run, and you have to keep coming back to your computer to start them, this might cost you a lot of time. 

There is a shortcut. Pre-record your video files, connect these files to the specific trials in your trial list, and run a batch acquisition. You can acquire your data overnight! See how it works in the video.

EthoVision XT batch acquisition.