5 steps to set up the perfect behavioral suite

5 steps to set up the perfect behavioral suite

Posted by Colleen McSweeney on Thu 18 Aug. 2022 - 4 minute read

Noldus is your partner in research, and with versatile tools such as our state-of-the-art video tracking software EthoVision XT, we can help you achieve that next crucial goal in your animal experiment(s).

5 steps to set up the perfect behavioral suite

The perfect set up is very much achievable, but we need to review a few topics before we get there. When you are setting up a new behavioral suite, there are many decisions to make that can ultimately impact the quality of your data. Here are a couple of components that you might not have considered:

1. What camera are you going to use to capture videos?

When deciding what camera to use, consider if you plan to record live by hooking up the camera to EthoVision XT during the experiment, or if you plan to record the videos first, and run them in a batch through the software. If you are connecting the camera directly to EthoVision XT during the experiment, then you want to make sure it is a camera that EthoVision XT recognizes. 

We recommend the Basler GigE Camera, as it has been extensively tested by our technical team and achieves the optimal framerate. USB 3 cameras might work as well, but often provide a less stable framerate. With EthoVision XT, you can output your videos up to 1920x1200 resolution (1280x960 with deep learning).

If you are batch processing videos that were pre-recorded, then you want to ensure they are in an appropriate file format. Files like MPEG-4, H.264 AVC, and DV-AVI work well with EthoVision XT. If you are unsure if your file format is compatible, reach out to your Scientific Consultant and they can assist!


BASLR camera on mount

2. What computer are you going to run the software on?

For acquisition (getting the x,y coordinates of the subject) EthoVision XT processes 30-60 frames per second, for up to three body points. To process this data in real time, EthoVision XT will need a high-powered workstation. We recommend a Dell Precision Workstation, with an NVIDIA standalone graphics card that is at least 2GB, GDDR5. The exact model we recommend changes frequently, so make sure to talk to your Scientific Consultant to find out the latest card we recommend. 

If you are analyzing data after acquisition, or batch processing videos after the fact, you might be able to use a slightly less powerful computer. If you plan to do so, check in with your Scientific Consultant to make sure your computer will be sufficient.

Important! As we have been advancing our technology, so does the requirement for more powerful hardware. Our new deep learning tracking technology makes use of the processing power in the graphics card (GPU). To be more specific, deep learning relies on the CUDA computing platform, meaning the GPU must support CUDA version 10. Please reach out to your Scientific Consultant so they can assist with making the right choice!

3. Do you want to integrate EthoVision XT with any external equipment?

Did you know EthoVision XT can control external equipment (like optogenetics, fiber photometry, fear conditioning box, and more)? Within the EthoVision XT software, you can instruct a timed start/stop pulse to be sent to other equipment. This ensures that your behavioral data is aligned with any external sources. 

EthoVision XT also notates when the pulses are sent, so you can analyze behavioral data pre, post, and mid pulse! If you want to do this, you will need a Noldus I/O box, the EthoVision XT Trial and Hardware Control Module (THCM), and the appropriate cables.

Discover how to build your EthoVision solution here >>


EEG Ethovision integration

4. Mazes

Looking for a specific maze for rodents and/or zebrafish? Noldus also offers these! Your Scientific Consultant will typically ask if you need any mazes for your behavioral suite. Our partner, Maze Engineers (aka Conduct Science), has a vast array of mazes which, in North America, can all be purchased through Noldus (at the same price). Are you a researcher in Europe? Please ask your sales engineer about our maze solutions.

Make sure to get a maze that is a contrasting color to the subject you have! If you plan to have a variety of colored subjects, you can also get a light blue or light gray maze.

5. On-site Installation and Training

Setting up your behavior suite can be a daunting process, but Noldus is happy to help. We offer on-site installation and training; our trainers will come to your lab, setup your equipment (computer, camera, mazes, software), and will provide a training on how to use the software. 

These trainings will be specific to what assays you plan to run, and we are more than happy to walk you through making a template experiment, analyzing your data, and generating visualizations. 


customer story css leipzig university educational psychology

Has this list of things to consider before buying generated even MORE questions? Or has it sparked your curiosity? Feel free to get in touch with your personal Noldus Scientific Consultant. They are here to help you navigate the process. 

Once you submit a web request, someone from your Noldus team will email you to schedule a phone call or meeting. If you are able to chat, this is often the easiest way to customize your behavioral setup, but we can also talk via email. Just let us know which option works better for you. 

We will ask you many of the questions above, and a few more! This helps us ensure we provide you with a complete solution that will get your behavioral suite up and running quickly.

Thinking of setting up a behavioral core lab? 

Our behavioral expert, Dr. Jason Rogers, has written a clear guide that takes you through a step-by-step proces of setting up your own behavioral lab. 









FREE GUIDE: How to build a rodent neurobehavioral core

This guidebook is designed for researchers and administrators who are considering building a rodent behavioral core.

  • Guidance, information, and tips
  • Three benefits of building a behavioral core
  • Planning, setting up and maintaining


Don’t need a complete setup? No problem! We can help you determine if your current equipment is useable with EthoVision XT, or what might need to be updated. We strive to come up with the best plan of action to provide you with a setup that meets both your research and budget needs.

To talk to your regional Scientific Consultant/Sales Engineer, click here: https://www.noldus.com/form/request-information

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