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      Automated behavioural analysis reveals the basic behavioural repertoire of the urochordate Ciona intestinalis

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          Abstract

          Quantitative analysis of animal behaviour in model organisms is becoming an increasingly essential approach for tackling the great challenge of understanding how activity in the brain gives rise to behaviour. Here we used automated image-based tracking to extract behavioural features from an organism of great importance in understanding the evolution of chordates, the free-swimming larval form of the tunicate Ciona intestinalis, which has a compact and fully mapped nervous system composed of only 231 neurons. We analysed hundreds of videos of larvae and we extracted basic geometric and physical descriptors of larval behaviour. Importantly, we used machine learning methods to create an objective ontology of behaviours for C. intestinalis larvae. We identified eleven behavioural modes using agglomerative clustering. Using our pipeline for quantitative behavioural analysis, we demonstrate that C. intestinalis larvae exhibit sensory arousal and thigmotaxis. Notably, the anxiotropic drug modafinil modulates thigmotactic behaviour. Furthermore, we tested the robustness of the larval behavioural repertoire by comparing different rearing conditions, ages and group sizes. This study shows that C. intestinalis larval behaviour can be broken down to a set of stereotyped behaviours that are used to different extents in a context-dependent manner.

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          Most cited references 70

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          The Structure of the Nervous System of the Nematode Caenorhabditis elegans

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            idTracker: tracking individuals in a group by automatic identification of unmarked animals.

            Animals in groups touch each other, move in paths that cross, and interact in complex ways. Current video tracking methods sometimes switch identities of unmarked individuals during these interactions. These errors propagate and result in random assignments after a few minutes unless manually corrected. We present idTracker, a multitracking algorithm that extracts a characteristic fingerprint from each animal in a video recording of a group. It then uses these fingerprints to identify every individual throughout the video. Tracking by identification prevents propagation of errors, and the correct identities can be maintained indefinitely. idTracker distinguishes animals even when humans cannot, such as for size-matched siblings, and reidentifies animals after they temporarily disappear from view or across different videos. It is robust, easy to use and general. We tested it on fish (Danio rerio and Oryzias latipes), flies (Drosophila melanogaster), ants (Messor structor) and mice (Mus musculus).
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              Thigmotaxis as an index of anxiety in mice. Influence of dopaminergic transmissions.

              When mice are introduced into an open-field, they are inclined to explore mainly the peripheral zone of this open-field. This tendency to remain close the walls, called thigmotaxis, decreases gradually during the first minutes of exploration. We have considered the degree of thigmotaxis during this period of decrease as an index of anxiety in mice. This hypothesis has been validated with several reference anxiogenic drugs (dexamphetamine, pentylenetetrazole, yohimbine, idazoxan) which increased thigmotaxis; and with anxiolytic drugs (buspirone, phenobarbital), which reduced it. On this test the selective or non-selective indirect dopamine agonists GBR 12783, dexamphetamine and cocaine induced an increase of thigmotaxis. Finally, the simultaneous involvement of D1 and D2 dopamine receptors has been evidenced in the anxiogenic-like effect associated with an increase of dopaminergic transmissions.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Marios.Chatzigeorgiou@uib.no
                Journal
                Sci Rep
                Sci Rep
                Scientific Reports
                Nature Publishing Group UK (London )
                2045-2322
                20 February 2019
                20 February 2019
                2019
                : 9
                Affiliations
                [1 ]ISNI 0000 0004 1936 7443, GRID grid.7914.b, Sars International Centre for Marine Molecular Biology, , University of Bergen, Thormøhlensgate 55, ; 5006 Bergen, Norway
                [2 ]ISNI 0000 0001 2175 3544, GRID grid.418671.d, École Nationale Supérieure de Chimie de Montpellier, 240 Avenue du Professeur Emile Jeanbrau, ; 34090 Montpellier, France
                [3 ]ISNI 0000 0001 2217 0017, GRID grid.7452.4, University Paris Diderot-Paris7, 5 rue Thomas Mann, ; 75013 Paris, France
                Article
                38791
                10.1038/s41598-019-38791-5
                6382837
                30787329
                © The Author(s) 2019

                Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

                Funding
                Funded by: Sars Centre Core Budget
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