Tracking body points
After set-up, EthoVision XT is ready to track: follow the movement, activity, and behavior of your animal. You can also manually add events or automatically score behavior.
EthoVision XT tracks the center of gravity of the animal. In case of rats, mice, and zebrafish, it can also track the nose point, center point, and tail base of the animal – a useful addition in studies such as novel object recognition and social interaction.
Tracking multiple body points of rats or mice, you can use the contour-based method or deep learning technology (introduced in EthoVision XT 16) that uses trained neural networks for an unsurpassed tracking accuracy.
In addition to video tracking of your animal, EthoVision XT can also detect activity. This means that the software detects changes at pixel level from one frame to the next. This is useful to study specific behaviors such as freezing. You can use both a top and a side view camera position.
Activity detection even works in situations where detection is difficult due to poor lighting or little difference in contrast between the color of the animal and the background color.
When you want to start tracking your animal, you can simply click the acquisition button. But you might want the actual trial to start after certain conditions are met. This is what Trial Control is for; set start and stop conditions of a trial based on the animal’s behavior or on timing.
By the way, you can use a similar approach to control external equipment (such as light and sound) to fully automate your research.
Batch acquisition means that you can acquire a series of trials at one push of a button. Line up your video files and let EthoVision XT do the rest - even overnight!
When you are working with a live video feed, you don’t have to start each trial manually, either. Use EthoVision XT to automatically acquire a series of trials, according to your predefined settings, from a live video feed.
Multiple video sources
With EthoVision XT, you can track in multiple arenas simultaneously. Either place the cages or mazes side by side under one camera, or record from up to four different video sources without the need for additional software or hardware. You do not need to place your cages (arenas) in a grid.
In addition to gathering tracking and activity data, you can also use EthoVision XT to annotate behavioral events. In fact, the software offers two options:
- Manual Event Recorder with which you define behaviors and score them during the acquisition phase (see below).
- Automatic behavior recognition (currently available for rat and mouse behavior).
Behavioral events can be combined with tracking (and external) data for integrated data selection, analysis, visualization, and export.
Manual Event Recorder
With EthoVision XT you can score behaviors live or offline. In the latter case you can slow down playback speed for enhanced (frame by frame) accuracy of scoring. Of course you can edit scored events or change their time-stamps.
Behaviors can have a duration, or be point events, such as a bite or a kick, or behaviors you only need to know the frequency of occurrence of. Live behavioral scoring can be used for Trial & Hardware Control protocols.
Other data streams
Besides the tracking, activity, and behavioral events data that are gathered with EthoVision XT, you can also integrate external data streams, such as physiology.