MATSAP: An automated analysis of stretch-attend posture in rodent behavioral experiments.
ABSTRACT: Stretch-attend posture (SAP) occurs during risk assessment and is prevalent in common rodent behavioral tests. Measuring this behavior can enhance behavioral tests. For example, stretch-attend posture is a more sensitive measure of the effects of anxiolytics than traditional spatiotemporal indices. However, quantifying stretch-attend posture using human observers is time consuming, somewhat subjective, and prone to errors. We have developed MATLAB-based software, MATSAP, which is a quick, consistent, and open source program that provides objective automated analysis of stretch-attend posture in rodent behavioral experiments. Unlike human observers, MATSAP is not susceptible to fatigue or subjectivity. We assessed MATSAP performance with videos of male Swiss mice moving in an open field box and in an elevated plus maze. MATSAP reliably detected stretch-attend posture on par with human observers. This freely-available program can be broadly used by biologists and psychologists to accelerate neurological, pharmacological, and behavioral studies.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Patients with upper limb pain often have a slumped sitting position and poor shoulder posture. Pain could be due to poor posture causing mechanical changes (stretch; local pressure) that in turn affect the function of major limb nerves (e.g. median nerve). This study examines (1) whether the individual components of slumped sitting (forward head position, trunk flexion and shoulder protraction) cause median nerve stretch and (2) whether shoulder protraction restricts normal nerve movements.<h4>Methods</h4>Longitudinal nerve movement was measured using frame-by-frame cross-correlation analysis from high frequency ultrasound images during individual components of slumped sitting. The effects of protraction on nerve movement through the shoulder region were investigated by examining nerve movement in the arm in response to contralateral neck side flexion.<h4>Results</h4>Neither moving the head forward or trunk flexion caused significant movement of the median nerve. In contrast, 4.3 mm of movement, adding 0.7% strain, occurred in the forearm during shoulder protraction. A delay in movement at the start of protraction and straightening of the nerve trunk provided evidence of unloading with the shoulder flexed and elbow extended and the scapulothoracic joint in neutral. There was a 60% reduction in nerve movement in the arm during contralateral neck side flexion when the shoulder was protracted compared to scapulothoracic neutral.<h4>Conclusion</h4>Slumped sitting is unlikely to increase nerve strain sufficient to cause changes to nerve function. However, shoulder protraction may place the median nerve at risk of injury, since nerve movement is reduced through the shoulder region when the shoulder is protracted and other joints are moved. Both altered nerve dynamics in response to moving other joints and local changes to blood supply may adversely affect nerve function and increase the risk of developing upper quadrant pain.
Project description:Infants' spontaneous and voluntary movements mirror developmental integrity of brain networks since they require coordinated activation of multiple sites in the central nervous system. Accordingly, early detection of infants with atypical motor development holds promise for recognizing those infants who are at risk for a wide range of neurodevelopmental disorders (e.g., cerebral palsy, autism spectrum disorders). Previously, novel wearable technology has shown promise for offering efficient, scalable and automated methods for movement assessment in adults. Here, we describe the development of an infant wearable, a multi-sensor smart jumpsuit that allows mobile accelerometer and gyroscope data collection during movements. Using this suit, we first recorded play sessions of 22 typically developing infants of approximately 7 months of age. These data were manually annotated for infant posture and movement based on video recordings of the sessions, and using a novel annotation scheme specifically designed to assess the overall movement pattern of infants in the given age group. A machine learning algorithm, based on deep convolutional neural networks (CNNs) was then trained for automatic detection of posture and movement classes using the data and annotations. Our experiments show that the setup can be used for quantitative tracking of infant movement activities with a human equivalent accuracy, i.e., it meets the human inter-rater agreement levels in infant posture and movement classification. We also quantify the ambiguity of human observers in analyzing infant movements, and propose a method for utilizing this uncertainty for performance improvements in training of the automated classifier. Comparison of different sensor configurations also shows that four-limb recording leads to the best performance in posture and movement classification.
Project description:Defensive behaviors are evolved responses to threat stimuli, and a potential threat elicits risk assessment (RA) behavior. However, neural mechanisms underlying RA behavior are hardly understood. Urocortin-3 (Ucn3) is a member of corticotropin-releasing factor peptide family and here, we report that Ucn3 neurons in the hypothalamic perifornical area (PeFA) are involved in RA of a novel object, a potential threat stimulus, in mice. Histological and <i>in vivo</i> fiber photometry studies revealed that the activity of PeFA Ucn3 neurons was associated with novel object investigation involving the stretch-attend posture, a behavioral marker for RA. Chemogenetic activation of these neurons increased RA and burying behaviors toward a novel object without affecting anxiety and corticosterone levels. Ablation of these neurons caused the abnormal behaviors of gnawing and direct contacts with novel objects, especially in a home-cage. These results suggest that PeFA Ucn3 neurons modulate defensive responses to a potential threat stimulus.
Project description:Adolescents with Conduct Disorder (CD) show deficits in recognizing facial expressions of emotion, but it is not known whether these difficulties extend to other social cues, such as emotional body postures. Moreover, in the absence of eye-tracking data, it is not known whether such deficits, if present, are due to a failure to attend to emotionally informative regions of the body. Male and female adolescents with CD and varying levels of callous-unemotional (CU) traits (n = 45) and age- and sex-matched typically-developing controls (n = 51) categorized static and dynamic emotional body postures. The emotion categorization task was paired with eye-tracking methods to investigate relationships between fixation behavior and recognition performance. Having CD was associated with impaired recognition of static and dynamic body postures and atypical fixation behavior. Furthermore, males were less likely to fixate emotionally-informative regions of the body than females. While we found no effects of CU traits on body posture recognition, the effects of CU traits on fixation behavior varied according to CD status and sex, with CD males with lower levels of CU traits showing the most atypical fixation behavior. Critically, atypical fixation behavior did not explain the body posture recognition deficits observed in CD. Our findings suggest that CD-related impairments in recognition of body postures of emotion are not due to attentional issues. Training programmes designed to ameliorate the emotion recognition difficulties associated with CD may need to incorporate a body posture component.
Project description:When an organism colonizes a new environment, it needs to adapt both morphologically and behaviorally to survive and thrive. Although recent progress has been made in understanding the genetic architecture underlying morphological evolution, behavioral evolution is poorly understood. Here, we use the Mexican cavefish, Astyanax mexicanus, to study the genetic basis for convergent evolution of feeding posture. When river-dwelling surface fish became entrapped in the caves, they were confronted with dramatic changes in the availability and type of food source and in their ability to perceive it. In this setting, multiple independent populations of cavefish exhibit an altered feeding posture compared with their ancestral surface forms. We determined that this behavioral change in feeding posture is not due to changes in cranial facial morphology, body depth, or to take advantage of the expansion in the number of taste buds. Quantitative genetic analysis demonstrates that two different cave populations have evolved similar feeding postures through a small number of genetic changes, some of which appear to be distinct. This work indicates that independently evolved populations of cavefish can evolve the same behavioral traits to adapt to similar environmental challenges by modifying different sets of genes.
Project description:A characteristic posture is considered one of the behavioral hallmarks of sleep, and typically includes functional features such as support for the limbs and shielding of sensory organs. The nematode C. elegans exhibits a sleep-like state during a stage termed lethargus, which precedes ecdysis at the transition between larval stages. A hockey-stick-like posture is commonly observed during lethargus. What might its function be? It was previously noted that during lethargus, C. elegans nematodes abruptly rotate about their longitudinal axis. Plausibly, these "flips" facilitate ecdysis by assisting the disassociation of the old cuticle from the new one. We found that body-posture during lethargus was established using a stereotypical motor program and that body bends during lethargus quiescence were actively maintained. Moreover, flips occurred almost exclusively when the animals exhibited a single body bend, preferentially in the anterior or mid section of the body. We describe a simple biomechanical model that imposes the observed lengths of the longitudinally directed body-wall muscles on an otherwise passive elastic rod. We show that this minimal model is sufficient for generating a rotation about the anterior-posterior body axis. Our analysis suggests that posture during lethargus quiescence may serve a developmental role in facilitating flips and that the control of body wall muscles in anterior and posterior body regions are distinct.
Project description:Neuropeptides signal through G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) to regulate a broad array of animal behaviors and physiological processes. The Caenorhabditis elegans genome encodes approximately 100 predicted neuropeptide receptor GPCRs, but in vivo roles for only a few have been identified. We describe here a role for the GPCR FRPR-4 in the regulation of behavioral quiescence and locomotive posture. FRPR-4 is activated in cell culture by several neuropeptides with an amidated isoleucine-arginine-phenylalanine (IRF) motif or an amidated valine-arginine-phenylalanine (VRF) motif at their carboxy termini, including those encoded by the gene flp-13. Loss of frpr-4 function results in a minor feeding quiescence defect after heat-induced cellular stress. Overexpression of frpr-4 induces quiescence of locomotion and feeding as well as an exaggerated body bend posture. The exaggerated body bend posture requires the gene flp-13. While frpr-4 is expressed broadly, selective overexpression of frpr-4 in the proprioceptive DVA neurons results in exaggerated body bends that require flp-13 in the ALA neuron. Our results suggest that FLP-13 and other neuropeptides signal through FRPR-4 and other receptors to regulate locomotion posture and behavioral quiescence.
Project description:Poor posture in childhood and adolescence is held responsible for the occurrence of associated disorders in adult age. This study aimed to verify whether body posture in adolescence can be enhanced through the improvement of neuromuscular performance, attained by means of targeted strength, stretch, and body perception training, and whether any such improvement might also transition into adulthood. From a total of 84 volunteers, the posture development of 67 adolescents was checked annually between the age of 14 and 20 based on index values in three posture situations. 28 adolescents exercised twice a week for about 2 h up to the age of 18, 24 adolescents exercised continually up to the age of 20. Both groups practiced other additional sports for about 1.8 h/week. Fifteen persons served as a non-exercising control group, practicing optional sports of about 1.8 h/week until the age of 18, after that for 0.9 h/week. Group allocation was not random, but depended on the participants' choice. A linear mixed model was used to analyze the development of posture indexes among the groups and over time and the possible influence of anthropometric parameters (weight, size), of optional athletic activity and of sedentary behavior. The post hoc pairwise comparison was performed applying the Scheffé test. The significance level was set at 0.05. The group that exercised continually (TR20) exhibited a significant posture parameter improvement in all posture situations from the 2nd year of exercising on. The group that terminated their training when reaching adulthood (TR18) retained some improvements, such as conscious straightening of the body posture. In other posture situations (habitual, closed eyes), their posture results declined again from age 18. The effect sizes determined were between ?2 = 0.12 and ?2 = 0.19 and represent moderate to strong effects. The control group did not exhibit any differences. Anthropometric parameters, additional athletic activities and sedentary behavior did not influence the posture parameters significantly. An additional athletic training of 2 h per week including elements for improved body perception seems to have the potential to improve body posture in symptom free male adolescents and young adults.
Project description:In two experiments with large samples of participants, we explored contextual memory effects associated with body posture, which was considered a physical and proprioceptive context and, therefore, potentially relevant to the encoding and retrieval of information. In Experiment 1 (N = 128), we studied the effect of context dependence on memory by manipulating the body posture adopted by the participants during the incidental encoding and subsequent recall of a series of action sentences not intrinsically associated with particular body postures (e.g., "to put on a pair of glasses", "to look at a postcard"). Memory performance was not affected by context manipulation, as reflected by the absence of significant differences between remembering while in the posture adopted at study or in a different posture. Experiment 2 (N = 85) was designed to analyze context congruency memory effects, and for that purpose we manipulated the participants' body posture during the recall of sentences that described actions usually performed in body postures that were congruent or incongruent with the posture of the participants (e.g., recalling the sentence "to travel by taxi" while sitting or while standing). A content-neutral posture (lying) was used for the incidental encoding phase. Memory performance was not affected by contextual congruency at the time of recall, as evidenced by the lack of significant differences between recalling in a posture congruent with the content to be recalled and recalling in an alternative posture. Bayesian analyses supported the strength of null findings in the two experiments, adding to the evidence that, when taken together, the results in this study clearly failed to show contextual memory effects of body posture on the recall of action-related verbal statements.
Project description:In a postural-suprapostural task, appropriate prioritization is necessary to achieve task goals and maintain postural stability. A "posture-first" principle is typically favored by elderly people in order to secure stance stability, but this comes at the cost of reduced suprapostural performance. Using a postural-suprapostural task with a motor suprapostural goal, this study investigated differences between young and older adults in dual-task cost across varying task prioritization paradigms. Eighteen healthy young (mean age: 24.8 ± 5.2 years) and 18 older (mean age: 68.8 ± 3.7 years) adults executed a designated force-matching task from a stabilometer board using either a stabilometer stance (posture-focus strategy) or force-matching (supraposture-focus strategy) as the primary task. The dual-task effect (DTE: % change in dual-task condition; positive value: dual-task benefit, negative value: dual-task cost) of force-matching error and reaction time (RT), posture error, and approximate entropy (ApEn) of stabilometer movement were measured. When using the supraposture-focus strategy, young adults exhibited larger DTE values in each behavioral parameter than when using the posture-focus strategy. The older adults using the supraposture-focus strategy also attained larger DTE values for posture error, stabilometer movement ApEn, and force-matching error than when using the posture-focus strategy. These results suggest that the supraposture-focus strategy exerted an increased dual-task benefit for posture-motor dual-tasking in both healthy young and elderly adults. The present findings imply that the older adults should make use of the supraposture-focus strategy for fall prevention during dual-task execution.