New method: By combining video and vibration analysis we created an automated system that provides the most detailed description of mouse behavior available. Our system (The Behavioral Spectrometer) allowed for the rapid assessment of behavioral abnormalities in the BTBR model of Autism, the restraint model of stress and the irritant model of inflammatory pain.
Results: We found that each model produced a unique alteration of the spectrum of behavior emitted by the mice. BTBR mice engaged in more grooming and less rearing behaviors. Prior restraint stress produced dramatic increases in grooming activity at the expense of locomotor behavior. Pain produced profound decreases in emitted behavior that were reversible with analgesic treatment.
Comparison with existing methods: We evaluated our system through a direct comparison on the same subjects with the current “gold standard” of human observation of video recordings. Using the same mice evaluated over the same range of behaviors, the Behavioral Spectrometer produced a quantitative categorization of behavior that was highly correlated with the scores produced by trained human observers (r = 0.97).