Simulation of anxious profiles in animal behaviour
Neuroscience Research Program
Universidad de Costa Rica
This project seeks to construct a statistically sound computational simulation of the rat behaviour in the maze knows as Elevated Plus-Maze (EPM).
The EPM is a cross shaped structure (four arms joined by a central area,) traditionally used to study the effect of anxiolitic drugs on the behaviour of laboratory animals (See http://www.bilaney.com/coulbourn/CI_images/H10-35-EPM.jpg
). Nowadays, the EPM itís a routine test in the preclinical phase of scientific research related to the development of new drugs for the treatment of psychopathology.
We initially observe the behavior of real animals in the EPM by recording their movements using video-tracking software. Then, we code the registered (second by second) movements of every animal into a general database that is analyzed using Artificial Intelligence strategies. These A.I. strategies help us to extract the subset of statistical rules that better describe the behavior exhibited in the data collected.
At this point, Blender put hands to work...
Using a python script, we translate the rules as propositions recognized by python, and through the use of another python script, we use these behavioral rules to drive a real time simulation of a "virtual animal" in a virtual maze. All the elements displayed in the visualization are created as 3D Blender models and visualized through the Blender game engine (Some images in http://mentepreescolar.blogspot.com/2009/10/seminario-simulacion-de-comportamiento.html
Additionally, as a derived product, we are working in an educational software (also using python scripts + game engine) to enrich the experience of university students in a virtual laboratory where behavioral differences in various strains of rats are simulated.
Researchers and research assistants specialized in cognitive science, statistics, psychology and computational sciences are in charge of the project.
Comments and suggestions are welcome.
Visit our website: http://www.vinv.ucr.ac.cr/pin/