Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


INTELLIMAZE — Result In Brief

Project ID: 37965
Country: Switzerland

Automated monitoring of animal behaviour

A large European consortium performed high-throughput and detailed behavioural characterisation of mouse models in biomedicine. The developed system is expected to revolutionise monitoring of animal behaviour with significant implications for better understanding neurological disorders.
Automated monitoring of animal behaviour
Neuroscience relies heavily on the monitoring of behavior in order to understand brain function. Coupled with a lack of standardised techniques and specialised personnel, the existing technology limits the study of animal behaviour in a handful of sites worldwide.

To overcome these hurdles and make behaviour monitoring more accessible, the EU-funded Intellimaze project combined the expertise of three small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and four academic partners. The key aim was to develop a fully automated behavioural test system that could fit into a room and assess animal cage activity and social behaviour.

The IntelliCage system allowed the monitoring of food consumption and social behaviour. The main advantage of the system was its standardisation of the environment and testing procedures, enabling screening of behavioural changes caused by toxicants, neurological diseases, or developmental, social and environmental manipulations.

Pre-programmed modules could adapt to research-specific needs and questions making the system easy to use even by small biotech companies lacking behavioural expertise. The Intellimaze system was tested on various mouse models of neurodegenerative diseases providing crucial information on the effects of brain lesions to standard tests for impaired functions. Furthermore, the project generated novel approaches for studying depression in mice and quantifying deficits in social behaviour characteristics for autism and schizophrenia in humans.

Intellimaze succeeded in developing a new tool that permits fully automated mouse testing, even with a minimum of behavioural knowledge. IntelliCages themselves represent an extremely efficient high-throughput tool for testing large numbers of mice in a minimum amount of time. Importantly, the Intellimaze system, due to minimal handling by researchers, complies with the more stringent regulations in the field of animal testing systems.

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