OMR-arena: automated measurement and stimulation system to determine mouse visual thresholds based on optomotor responses

PLoS One. 2013 Nov 15;8(11):e78058. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0078058. eCollection 2013.


Measurement of the optomotor response is a common way to determine thresholds of the visual system in animals. Particularly in mice, it is frequently used to characterize the visual performance of different genetically modified strains or to test the effect of various drugs on visual performance. Several methods have been developed to facilitate the presentation of stimuli using computer screens or projectors. Common methods are either based on the measurement of eye movement during optokinetic reflex behavior or rely on the measurement of head and/or body-movements during optomotor responses. Eye-movements can easily and objectively be quantified, but their measurement requires invasive fixation of the animals. Head movements can be observed in freely moving animals, but until now depended on the judgment of a human observer who reported the counted tracking movements of the animal during an experiment. In this study we present a novel measurement and stimulation system based on open source building plans and software. This system presents appropriate 360° stimuli while simultaneously video-tracking the animal's head-movements without fixation. The on-line determined head gaze is used to adjust the stimulus to the head position, as well as to automatically calculate visual acuity. Exemplary, we show that automatically measured visual response curves of mice match the results obtained by a human observer very well. The spatial acuity thresholds yielded by the automatic analysis are also consistent with the human observer approach and with published results. Hence, OMR-arena provides an affordable, convenient and objective way to measure mouse visual performance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Eye Movements / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation* / instrumentation
  • Photic Stimulation* / methods
  • Software*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*

Grant support

The work was supported by German research foundation, DFG FOR 701. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.