Investigating neural correlates of behavior in freely behaving rodents using inertial sensors

J Neurophysiol. 2010 Jul;104(1):569-75. doi: 10.1152/jn.00121.2010. Epub 2010 Apr 28.


Simultaneous behavior and multielectrode neural recordings in freely behaving rodents holds great promise to study the neural bases of behavior and disease models in combination with genetic manipulations. Here, we introduce the use of three-axis accelerometers to characterize the behavior of rats and mice during chronic neural recordings. These sensors were small and light enough to be worn by rodents and were used to record three-axis acceleration during freely moving behavior. A two-layer neural network-based pattern recognition algorithm was developed to extract the natural behavior of mice from the acceleration data. Successful recognition of resting, eating, grooming, and rearing are shown using this approach. The inertial sensors were combined with continuous 24-h recordings of neural data from the striatum of mice to characterize variations in neural activity with circadian cycles and to study the neural correlates of spontaneous action initiation. Finally, accelerometers were used to study the performance of rodents in traditional operant conditioning, where they were used to extract the reaction time of rodents. Thus the addition of accelerometer recordings of rodents to chronic multielectrode neural recordings provides great value for a number of neuroscience applications.

MeSH terms

  • Acceleration
  • Algorithms
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Conditioning, Operant / physiology
  • Corpus Striatum / cytology
  • Corpus Striatum / physiology
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology
  • Female
  • Grooming / physiology
  • Motor Activity
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Rest / physiology