A Head-Fixation System for Continuous Monitoring of Force Generated During Behavior.
Many studies in neuroscience use head-fixed behavioral preparations, which confer a number of advantages, including the ability to limit the behavioral repertoire and use techniques for large-scale monitoring of neural activity. But traditional studies using this approach use extremely limited behavioral measures, in part because it is difficult to detect the subtle movements and postural adjustments that animals naturally exhibit during head fixation. Here we report a new head-fixed setup with analog load cells capable of precisely monitoring the continuous forces exerted by mice. The load cells reveal the dynamic nature of movements generated not only around the time of task-relevant events, such as presentation of stimuli and rewards, but also during periods in between these events, when there is no apparent overt behavior. It generates a new and rich set of behavioral measures that have been neglected in previous experiments. We detail the construction of the system, which can be 3D-printed and assembled at low cost, show behavioral results collected from head-fixed mice, and demonstrate that neural activity can be highly correlated with the subtle, whole-body movements continuously produced during head restraint.
Hughes, RN; Bakhurin, KI; Barter, JW; Zhang, J; Yin, HH
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