The study of social interaction can be done in a variety of set-ups, all having one thing in common: the study of behaviors between two or more animals. Behaviors of interest could be sexual and mating behavior, agonistic behavior, maternal behavior, etc. Often differences between treatment groups or genetic strains are investigated. Most tests are straightforward and conducted in an open field or home cage environment.
Advanced tracking technology
EthoVision XT automatically detects and tracks your animal as it moves around the test arena. There is no need for sensors; EthoVision XT detects multi-colored animals such as hooded rats with ease. Even when tracking multiple animals simultaneously – all you need is a small color marker for EthoVision XT to tell them apart. Advanced tracking technology and a range of detection methods to choose from will assure you of highly accurate data.
Accurate detection of social contact
For a precise detection of an animal’s location and position, EthoVision XT detects more than its center point. We have developed a special algorithm for rodents that enables the additional detection of nose point and tail base. This offers great added value to social behavior studies. In social interaction studies, this allows you to differentiate between nose to nose contact and nose-tail contact. These can have a completely different biological meaning; while the first might be interesting when studying aggression, the second could be of more interest when studying mating behavior.
Powerful data selection and analysis
Collecting data is only one step of your research. EthoVision XT also offers versatile data selection, visualization, and analysis tools, to help you perform meaningful interpretation of your data. A wide range of parameters related to the animal’s path, location, and path shape, as well as to individual and social behaviors, is available. You can choose to calculate the distance between two animals or let EthoVision XT tell you when the animal is in or out of the proximity of another animal, with user-definable thresholds.
Other social parameters are based on the position and movement between animals. The relative movement parameter tells you whether two animals were moving towards each other, from each other, if there was no relative movement, or if the animals were too far away from each other for social interaction to take place. Because the changes of position between two animals have a smaller effect when animals are further away from each other, EthoVision XT also calculates the net relative movement. In this case, the absolute distance between these animals is taken into account.
Automatic detection and additional scoring of behaviors
Nose to nose contact between subjects can be interpreted as sniffing, and these events can be automatically measured. With user-definable thresholds, the interpretation of this behavior will always be where it belongs: with the researcher.
Although other social behaviors cannot yet be automatically detected, such as allogrooming, nipping and biting, pup nursing, etc., these can provide valuable added information alongside your tracking data. That is why EthoVision XT incorporates a Manual Event Recorder. This allows you to define a list of behaviors you are interested in, and score them during data acquisition. These behaviors can be selected, visualized, and analyzed alongside tracking data. It can also be used to validate whether automatically detected nose to nose contacts can indeed be used to detect sniffing behavior.
Read all about social behavior research on our blog.