The Ratrix: Automated Live-In High Throughput Rodent Training

Automated High Throughput Behavioral Training
At the Reinagel Lab at UCSD we have developed a live-in high-throughput rodent visual behavior paradigm. This allows completely automated, high-throughput visual training and testing of rats and other rodents in their home cages. In addition to cost-effective hardware solutions, this project required a complex software development project for integrating stimulus control, reward delivery, data collection, and remote monitoring capacity.

Methods published in this 2011 JOV paper and its supplementary materials. We are pleased that the Ratrix code is now in use at several labs throughout the country. The Ratrix code is (c) of the Regents of the University of California. We will gladly provide a license for academic research use.

For more about tasks see Rodent Behavior Page

Eye Tracking
We use high-speed non-invasive infrared eye tracking to determine the location of visual stimuli relative to the retina. We find that rats spontaneously hold fixation for several seconds at a time (eye position traces, below left; scale bar = 3 sec). We can record eye positions in head-fixed rats with an accuracy of 0.2 degrees visual angle at kHz sampling rates (eye position estimates for three stimulus-evoked fixations, below right). Eye tracking methods are as yet unpublished. Feel free to contact us for information.

Physiological Recording
We have used standard (home-built or commercial) chronically implanted multi-electrode multidrives to record from single LGN neurons in freely behaving rats, as well as semi-acute head fixed recording during passive viewing conditions. We have developed a novel 3-response port so the same tasks can be performed in a head-fixed configuration. These methods are as yet unpublished, but were presented in two Cosyne posters: 2010 Flister and Reinagel and 2011 Sriram Meier and Reinagel.


Graduate students Philip Meier and Erik Flister led the initial development of the rat preparation in the Reinagel lab. Both Erik Flister and Phil Meier made essential contributions to the design, implementation and testing of the Ratrix software and hardware, with help from programmers Dan Parks and Fan Li and engineer Ginger Beriones and later contributions by an additional graduate student Balaji Sriram.

The deployment of the Ratrix was made possible by the generous support of the JSMcDonnel Foundation.