Fear conditioning

Fear conditioning and other learning tasks in rodents are typical in a wide range of studies, including neuropharmacological studies. A typical reaction to the expectation of an aversive stimulus or situation in rodents is a behavior described as freezing.

Fear conditioning setup
The Noldus/Ugo Basile Fear conditioning setup.
Fear conditioning cage
The Fear conditioning cage is often equipped with patterned walls for contextual conditioning.

Video tracking and fear conditioning

So why should you use EthoVision XT in your fear conditioning tasks? Well, first of all, EthoVision XT is excellent at detecting freezing. Second, the integrated analysis view is the most intuitive way to see the results of the automatic detection, so you can see  what your data looks like. There are many more reasons to use EthoVision XT, but don’t just take our word for it, watch the video below to see what one of our customers has to say!

Automatic detection of freezing

Instead of using the mobility of the subject as an indicator, freezing is more accurately assessed by a method called activity detection in EthoVision XT. This means that the software detects changes at the pixel level from one video frame to the next. These pixel changes are recognized in the whole video frame, not just the area that is recognized as the animal's body.  

Customer testimonial

“You have a really good detection of the freezing. I mean, the idea of the change in the pixels, it’s a really good one.”

Prof. Roberto Rimondini | Alma Mater Studiorum Bologna, Italy

You’re in control

Lack of movement is not just that. For example, an animal that is displaying freezing behavior does not necessarily have to be completely still, because it still has to breathe. Where this threshold lies can be dependent on a number of variables - take body size, for example. Your subject's body size might be affected by the treatment or manipulation you have applied. That is why you are in control of that threshold.

Integrated visualization

One of the ways to fine-tune this threshold is by using integrated visualization, where the tracks of your animal are superimposed on the video file, and your data is represented in dynamic graphs. A great little extra is that this part of the software also has a built-in screen recording tool, which allows you to make a video of the integrated visualization that you can use for presentations.

Customer testimonial

“I think one really big step was the integrated view. We have to trust the system, but to see the animal, to see really, oh this one is really freezing...”

Prof. Roberto Rimondini | Alma Mater Studiorum Bologna, Italy

Powerful data selection tools

A large part of the quality of your research depends on how you analyze your data. Data selection is crucial at the beginning of your analysis. EthoVision XT incorporates easy-to-use data selection and analysis tools so you can easily compare different treatment groups and results over time.

Suggested reading

Blog post: Freeze! A recent study on PTSD and the immune system.

These are some recent studies using EthoVision XT for the fear conditioning tasks:

  • Yu, T.-S.; Tensaouti, Y.; Bagha, Z.M.; Davidson, R.; Kim, A.; Kernie, S.G. (2017). Adult newborn neurons interfere with fear discrimination in a protocol-dependent manner. Brain and Behavior, 7, e00796.
  • Jones, M.E.; Lebonville, C.L.; Paniccia, J.E.; Balentine, M.E.; Reissner, K.J.; Lysle, D.T. (2017). Hippocampal interleukin-1 mediates stress-enhanced fear learning: A potential role for astrocyte-derived interleukin-1β. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 67, 355-363.
  • Wang, Y.; Li, Y.; Zhao, R.; Wu, B.; Lanoha, B.; Tong. Z.; Peer, J.; Liu, J.; Xiong, H.; Huang, Y.; Zheng, J. (2017). Glutaminase C overexpression in the brain induces learning deficits, synaptic dysfunctions, and neuroinflammation in mice. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 66, 135-145.
  • Shahani, N.; Huang, W.-C.; Varnum, M.; Page, D.T.; Subramaniam, S. (2017). Forebrain depletion of Rheb GTPase elicits spatial memory deficits in mice. Neurobiology of Aging, 50, 134-143.