Detecting fine and elaborate movements with piezo sensors, from heartbeat to the temporal organization of behavior

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
M. I. Carreno-MunozXavier Leinekugel


Behavioral phenotyping devices have been successfully used to build ethograms, but studying the temporal dynamics of individual movements during spontaneous, ongoing behavior, remains a challenge. We now report on a novel device, the Phenotypix, which consists in an open-field platform resting on highly sensitive piezoelectric (electro-mechanical) pressure-sensors, with which we could detect the slightest movements from freely moving rats and mice. The combination with video recordings and signal analysis based on time-frequency decomposition, clustering and machine learning algorithms allowed to quantify various behavioral components with unprecedented accuracy, such as individual heartbeats and breathing cycles during rest, tremor and shaking in response to pain, fear or as motor symptoms of neurodegenerative diseases, and the dynamics of balance within individual footsteps during spontaneous locomotion. We believe that this novel device represents a significant progress and offers new opportunities for the awaited advance of behavioral phenotyping.

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