A behavioural chamber to evaluate rodent forelimb grasping performance

Project Summary

Behavioural testing of rodents is an essential class of experiments in clinical research, providing an avenue to test and develop treatments to help patients in need. However, most commercial rodent behavioural equipment is very expensive (>£10,000), placing it above the range of what many small labs can afford. Our aim is to design, fabricate, and validate a low-cost behavioural chamber capable of evaluating forelimb grasping performance in rats. Forelimb grasping is a complex action guided by the sensory and motor brain cortex, and is a function deeply impaired in devastating clinical conditions such as spinal cord injury and stroke, making it an important model to study. Our chamber will provide automated testing capabilities (carrying out behavioural testing without input from the experimenter between trials) and record high speed video recordings of rat grasping actions. Using this video data, we will also develop a set of tools in Matlab to perform kinematic analysis of grasping performance.