Garret Stuber, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, UNC Neuroscience center, Chapel Hill, USA
Joshua Matulonis, Research Foundation at Stony Brook University, USA
Nick Birch, Scottish Crop Researcher Institute, Dundee, UK
Marina Pleskacheva, Moscow State University, Lab. Of Physiology, Genetics and Behavior, Moscow, Russian Federation
Samuel Adeosun, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, USA
Thomas van Groen, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Cell Biology department, Brimingham, USA
Jacqueline Womersley, University of CapeTown, Department of Human Biology, Cape Town, South Africa
David Eilam, Tel-Aviv University, Zoology Department, Israel
Allan V. Kalueff, Kalueff lab, Tulane University Medical School, USA
Diane Lim, University of Pennsylvania, USA
Matt Andrzejewski, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA
Joshua Herrington, Florida International University, USA
Craig Kinsley, University of Richmond, USA
What’s new in EthoVision XT 9
EthoVision XT 9: SIMPLY THE BEST
An animal can be sitting still, but that does not automatically mean that it is freezing. To solve this, EthoVision XT has a new method for activity detection. Now you can now detect body displacement and orientation of the animal, as well as activity levels within the arena. This combination is really powerful for detailed analysis of fear conditioning or operant tests.
The new activity detection is also very suitable to detect zebrafish embryonic tail flicks or convulsion behavior, or for the heartbeat monitoring of zebrafish larvae. The heartbeath detection (free software with EthoVIsion XT 9) extracts a power spectrum from your EthoVision XT data to identify the heartbeat.
Another great advantage of activity detection is that it even works in situations were detection is dificult due to poor lighting or light animals on a light background (or dark animals on a dark background).
Heartbeat detection in zebrafish larvae
Studies on new drugs are often discontinued due to negative side effects of those drugs on the heart. Cardiovascular defects and cardiotoxic effects of compounds can be easily measured in zebrafish larvae thanks to their transparency, small size, and ease of manipulation. With the EthoVision XT Heartbeat Detector this now becomes very easy and can be done without any fluorescent labeling technologies.
How? EthoVision XT comes with Activity Detection, a new method to measure the changes in pixels within an area between samples. When this area is the heart region of a zebrafish larva, the heart activity is detected.
This data is used by the Heartbeat Detector to calculate the dominant frequency and determine the heart rate of the zebrafish larva.
All you have to do is record the activity of the zebrafish larval heart area and the heart rate is calculated for you!
Your experiment, your choice in equipment
In addition to proven solutions with analog cameras, EthoVision XT supports a range of digital cameras, such as FireWire or GigE. These are particularly interesting in situations that require a high frame rate (quickly moving animals such as fish) or high resolution (small animals such as larvae in a large arena). Low-end digital cameras are useful if you want to create a cost-efficient solution for less demanding tests.
Picking your set-up usually involves more than just choosing a camera. Some experiments (operant tasks or conditioning) require interactions with hardware. That is why EthoVision XT has the Trial & Hardware Control Module; to control external equipment such as pellet feeders, lights, sound generators, and more, from within the software. By using EthoVision XT, you can even use behavioral based events in your operant task. This is taking operant conditioning to the next level!
Batch acquisition: analysis overnight
EthoVision XT allows you to acquire the tracking data of your animal live, but in some cases it is more practical to create video files of your experiments, and process these later. For example, when EthoVision XT is being used for other experiments. Processing these video files has become much easier, because you can now run a batch acquisition. Simply connect the video files to the according trials in your trial list. Now you can acquire your data overnight!
Other recent developments in EthoVision XT
At the beginning of the program you can either start a brand new experiment, re-use the settings from a previous experiment, or use the user-guided set-up to open an experiment template suited to a specific type of experiment (including the water maze, plus maze, and 96-well plate studies). With these templates, basic settings are pre-set, such as detection settings, arena definition, and parameters for analysis. Of course, you can fine-tune the settings to fit your specific research needs.
The new templates make EthoVision XT very accessible for first-time users. Both new as well as experienced users benefit from a quick workflow. It’s also ideal in an educational context or for (PhD) students who only temporarily work with the software. Or for anyone who needs to get their project up and running quickly.
When you perform the same or a similar test often, re-using your settings will save you a lot of time. You have already fine-tuned the settings to your specific test arena or animal, so why start all over again? Don’t. Simply start EthoVision XT and re-use your settings. This way you can create your own templates.
When your experiment contains multiple arenas (such as a series of open fields, home cages, or a multi-well plate), you do not need to draw each arena separately. The template will pre-draw the number of arenas in the configuration (rows x columns) you have defined. To accurately fit this to your video image, EthoVision XT allows you to manipulate the whole grid of arenas; the easy-to-use drawing tools allow you to rotate, scale, transpose, resize, and reposition all the arenas simultaneously.
EthoVision XT has always come with a detailed set of user documentation. But sometimes a video says more than a thousand words. EthoVision XT incorporates mini-video tutorials at certain parts of the program to explain the functionality, or to help you chose the proper settings for optimal detection.
The Trial & Hardware Control Module has been on the market for a while now, and to get even more from this module, EthoVision XT now allows you to analyze hardware events within EthoVision XT. These events can be the signals that were sent out from EthoVision XT to external devices (such as to drop a pellet on turn on the house light) and signals that are sent back to EthoVision XT (such as the confirmation of a pellet drop or feedback from the running wheel). This helps you to answer questions such as: “How long was the house light on?” and “How much running did the mouse do?”.
In addition to the Lowess filter, EthoVision XT includes a new data smoothing method. It allows the user to define the minimal distance moved that is taken into account as actual movement. This will smooth out jitter and body wobble and increase the quality of your data.
Trial Control (EthoVision XT Base) also has a new option: external commands. This allows you to integrate an external command block that specifies a command; you can use it to start and/or stop another application at a predefined moment in time (for instance at the point EthoVision XT starts collecting data or when the animals enters a predefined zone). 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.