Natural segmentation of the locomotor behavior of drug-induced rats in a photobeam cage

Neri Kafkafi*, Cheryl Mayo, Dan Drai, Ilan Golani, Greg Elmer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Recently, Drai et al. (J Neurosci Methods 96 (2000) 119) have introduced an algorithm that segments rodent locomotor behavior into natural units of 'staying in place' (lingering) behavior versus going between places (progression segments). This categorization, based on the maximum speed attained within the segment, was shown to be intrinsic to the data, using the statistical method of Gaussian Mixture Model. These results were obtained in normal rats and mice using very large (650 or 320 cm) circular arenas and a video tracking system. In the present study, we reproduce these results with amphetamine, phencyclidine and saline injected rats, using data measured by a standard photobeam tracking system in square 45 cm cages. An intrinsic distinction between two or three 'gears' could be shown in all animals. The spatial distribution of these gears indicates that, as in the large arena behavior, they correspond to the difference between 'staying in place' behavior and 'going between places'. The robustness of this segmentation over arena size, different measurement system and dose of two psychostimulant drugs indicates that this is an intrinsic, natural segmentation of rodent locomotor behavior. Analysis of photobeam data that is based on this segmentation has thus a potential use in psychopharmacology research.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)111-121
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Methods
Issue number2
StatePublished - 30 Aug 2001
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a grant from Novartis. The SEE package is available from the authors upon request, but requires the Mathematica programming environment.


  • Amphetamine
  • Exploratory behavior
  • Lowess
  • Open field
  • Phencyclidine
  • SEE
  • Stops


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