Version 0.5.5

Updated 8/22/2017

MazeEngineers Active Avoidance

Learning

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1. Install and Run Application

  • The application can be installed in the folder C:\MazeEngineers\appConductActiveAvoidance\bin
  • Double click on C:\MazeEngineers\appConductActiveAvoidance\bin\MazeOriginWpf.exe
  • The application appears as below:

2. Active Avoidance Connections to Computer

There are two connections – one with the chamber box and the other with the shocker.

  • Avoidance Box Connection

When the avoidance box is connected to your computer with USB cable (USB to RS485 cable), a port is shown up on the Device Manager.

  • There are two connections – one with the chamber box and the other with the shocker.

2.1 Avoidance Box Connection

When the avoidance box is connected to your computer with USB cable (USB to RS485 cable), a port is shown up on the Device Manager.

  • If the device is not shown on the Ports section, it will appear on different section. This is because the computer could not find the driver for the hardware device. In this case, you will need to install the driver (small disc in the box of UNITEK) which is included in shipping.
  • Once your computer recognizes Active Avoidance hardware, try to connect to it. This connection is used for the communication other than the shocker.

2.2 Shocker Connection

When the shocker of Active Avoidance is connected to your computer with USB cable (USB to RS232 cable), a port is shown up on the Device Manager similar to the above section 2.1.

  • If the device is not shown on the Ports section, it will appear on different section. This is because the computer could not find the driver for the hardware device. In this case, you will need to install the driver (small disc in the box of UNITEK) which is included in shipping.
  • Once your computer recognizes Active Avoidance hardware, try to connect to it. This connection is used for the communication other than the shocker.

2.3 Connections Status

On the right panel, there is a Comport Status panel as shown below:

  • Choose the comport that matches the one on the device manager for Active Avoidance box and click on the Connect button (the first one with label “Comport”). If the connection is established, the Status field shows the comport being connected and background becomes green.
  • Similarly, choose the second comport “Shocker Comport” and click on the Connect If the connection is established, the Status field shows the comport being connected and background becomes green.
  • Make sure to select the correct comports for the chamber box and the shocker.

Click on New menu item, a “New Experiment” window appears as shown below. Fill in an experiment name and click on Save button.

Once the experiment is created, it appears in the folder “All Avoidance Protocols” as shown below:

An experiment can be deleted by right click on the experiment.

3.2 Configure Parameters

To configure an experiment, double click on the experiment under the folder “All Avoidance Protocols“. The content of the experiment is shown on the tab “Active Avoidance Protocol“.

 

Time Parameters

 

§  PreTrial (0-1000 seconds, step 1) – represent the duration of the pre-stimulus interval. It is a habituation period with no stimuli.

 

§  Conditioned Time (1-1000 seconds, step 1) – during this period, light and sound stimuli can be applied.

 

§  Unconditioned Time (1-1000 seconds, step 1) – during this period, shock can be applied.

 

§  NumOfTrials (0-1000 seconds, step 1) – represents the protocol repetitions.

 

§  AutoTrialRepeat – if this parameter is enabled, when one trial is over, the next trial starts automatically, until the number of trials is reached. If this parameter is not enabled, each trail in the sequence has to be confirmed by user manually.

 

§  Total Seconds – it is the sum of pretrial time, conditioned time and unconditioned time, calculated by the system.

 

§  Random PreTrial (0-100 seconds, step 1) – the randomized time generated between 0 and this parameter. The randomized time is then added to the PreTrial time in each trial execution.

 

Sound Stimulus

 

 

Sound  is a conditioned stimulus (purple color) and can be configured in the “Sound Stimulus” tab:

  • Intensity : 0-100% step 1%
  • Frequency : 100-20000Hz step 100
  • Start : 0-999 seconds, step 1
  • End : 0-999 seconds, step 1
  • Sound file: user can also choose any audio files from the software computer.

Light Stimulus

Light  is a conditioned stimulus (orange color) and can be configured in the “Light Stimulus” tab:

  • Light intensity : 0-100% step 1%

Shock Stimulus

Shock  is an unconditioned stimulus (red color) and can be configured in the “Shock Stimulus” tab:

3.1 New Experiment

To create an experiment protocol, right click on “All Avoidance Protocols” on left panel. A menu item New appears as shown below:

Click on New menu item, a “New Experiment” window appears as shown below. Fill in an experiment name and click on Save button.

Constraints

  • For a sound, light or shock period, the start time has to be less than the end time.
  • If two periods are configured, they cannot be overlapped.
  • After you configure parameters and stimuli periods, you can click on Validate Params button to make sure the parameters and stimuli periods are valid.

4. Experiment Run

To execute an experiment, select the experiment under “All Experiment Protocols” on the left navigation panel and double click on it. Make sure the Avoidance box and the shocker are connected to PC and communication is properly established.

  • Run Experiment

Enter a name for the experiment run and click Start button. The tab “ActiveAvoidance Result” appears as below:

    • Trial – number of running trial.
    • Start Chamber – the chamber where the mouse is at when the trial starts.
    • T-PreMature – time when the mouse crosses from one chamber to the other during pretrial period.
    • PreMature – counter equal to 1 if crossing is premature.
    • T-Avoidance – time when the mouse crosses from one chamber to the other during conditioned period.
    • Avoidance – counter equal to 1 if crossing occurs during conditioned period.
    • T-Escape -time when the mouse crosses from one chamber to the other during unconditioned period.
    • Escape – counter equal to 1 if crossing occurs during unconditioned period.
    • No Response – counter equal to 1 if no crossing occurs during the trial.
    • Start Time – time when the trial starts.
    • End Time – time when the trial end.
    • Duration – duration of the trial.The main grid shows the experiment result:

    The grid also provides sum of crossing in each case of PreMature, Avoidance, Escape and No Response.

    There are also indicators of the experiment progress:

The right upper progress bar indicates the progress of the experiment run.

The red dot on the chart moves every second as experiment progress so it is intuitive to know when stimuli occur.

The red dot on the right lower panel shows the location of the mouse. Note that it is necessary to know the mouse location before an experiment runs.

4.2 Experiment Result

The execution states are saved to your computer and you can view it at any time.

You can click Export button to export the data to a .csv file.

5. Manual Operations

There is a panel on the right lower corner for manually control of the operations of door, lights and shocker. You would not need to use it normally.

6. Active Avoidance Protocol

  • Experiment Execution Flow

1.1        Active Avoidance Principle

Active avoidance requires performing a specific behavior in order to escape or avoid the aversive stimulus. It is a conditioning paradigm in which the animal learns to control the application of an unconditioned stimulus (US), in this case, a foot shock,  by appropriately reacting to a conditioned stimulus (CS) preceding the US, such as a light cue. The first stage of avoidance learning is usually to escape from the US. With continued training, anticipatory reactions appear which enable the animal to avoid the US altogether. In the active avoidance test, the rodent is placed into a shuttle box and is trained to move to the opposite side of the box in response to a cue that signals an incoming foot shock. Movement to the opposite side of the chamber in response to the presentation of the shock-predictive cue alone is regarded as active avoidance, whereas movement to the opposite side of the chamber only after receiving foot shock is regarded as an escape response (Bures et al., 1976).

1.2        Active Avoidance Test

In the active avoidance test, chambers of the shutter box are similarly illuminated. Multiple conditioning trials are required for the animal to acquire active avoidance behavior. It usually takes 10—20 trials before the first avoidance reaction appears.

§  Acquisition phase

The animal is allowed to explore the apparatus for 5 min with the connecting door open and the compartment lights switched off (door can be open and lights switched off manually)

Then start running experiment. During the experiment run, light, sound or shock stimuli are applied according to the configuration. Immediately after the mouse enters the other (dark) chamber or until time is expired, all stimuli are discontinued and the trial is completed.

After a variable inter-trial interval (30-90 seconds), the next trial starts from the chamber where the mouse is at.

For each trail, the escape or avoidance latency is measured.

§  Retention test

Retention can be tested at different times after acquisition by presenting the animal to the same paradigm.

 

The escape or avoidance latency is measured in consecutive trials separated by a variable inter-trial (30-90 sec) interval, until the criterion run is reached (similar to the learning phase). In this case, results may be presented as escape/avoidance latencies throughout trials.

7. Troubleshooting

  • The log file is located in the Log folder under your deployment folder

    C:\MazeEngineers\appActiveAvoidance \bin\Log