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Regular version of the site

Article

A Novel Avoidance Test Setup: Device and Exemplary Tasks

Studies in Computational Intelligence. 2020. Vol. 856. P. 159-164.
Bulava A., Volkov S., Alexandrov Y.

. This paper presents a novel rodent avoidance test. We have devel-oped a specialized device and procedures that expand the possibilities for exploration of the processes of learning and memory in a psychophysiological experiment. The device consists of a current stimulating electrode-platform and custom software that allows to control and record real-time experimental pro-tocols as well as reconstructs animal movement paths. The device can be used to carry out typical footshock-avoidance tests, such as passive, active, modified active and pedal-press avoidance tasks. It can also be utilized in the studies of prosocial behavior, including cooperation, competition, emotional contagion and empathy. This novel footshock-avoidance test procedure allows flexible current-stimulating settings. In our work, we have used slow-rising current. A test animal can choose between the current rise and time-out intervals as a signal for action in footshock avoidable tasks. This represents a choice between escape and avoid-ance. This method can be used to explore individual differences in decision-making and choice of avoidance strategies. It has been shown previously that a behavioral act, for example, pedal-pressing is ensured by motivation-dependent brain activity (avoidance or approach). We have created an experimental design based on tasks of instrumental learning: pedal-pressing in an operant box results in a reward, which is either a piece of food in a feeder (food-acquisition behavior) or an escape-platform (footshock-avoidance behavior). Data recording and analysis were performed using custom software, the open source Accord.NET Framework was used for real-time object detection and tracking.