A Validation of Supervised Deep Learning for Gait Analysis in the Cat

Front Neuroinform. 2021 Aug 19:15:712623. doi: 10.3389/fninf.2021.712623. eCollection 2021.


Gait analysis in cats and other animals is generally performed with custom-made or commercially developed software to track reflective markers placed on bony landmarks. This often involves costly motion tracking systems. However, deep learning, and in particular DeepLabCutTM (DLC), allows motion tracking without requiring placing reflective markers or an expensive system. The purpose of this study was to validate the accuracy of DLC for gait analysis in the adult cat by comparing results obtained with DLC and a custom-made software (Expresso) that has been used in several cat studies. Four intact adult cats performed tied-belt (both belts at same speed) and split-belt (belts operating at different speeds) locomotion at different speeds and left-right speed differences on a split-belt treadmill. We calculated several kinematic variables, such as step/stride lengths and joint angles from the estimates made by the two software and assessed the agreement between the two measurements using intraclass correlation coefficient or Lin's concordance correlation coefficient as well as Pearson's correlation coefficients. The results showed that DLC is at least as precise as Expresso with good to excellent agreement for all variables. Indeed, all 12 variables showed an agreement above 0.75, considered good, while nine showed an agreement above 0.9, considered excellent. Therefore, deep learning, specifically DLC, is valid for measuring kinematic variables during locomotion in cats, without requiring reflective markers and using a relatively low-cost system.

Keywords: cat; deep learning; gait analysis; kinematics; markerless pose estimation.