The aim of this multidisciplinary project is to design techniques and build low-cost, efficient automated solutions for behavioural study in rodents. Systems and cognitive neuroscience employ a range of sensorimotor decision-making behavioural tasks to understand the underlying computations and neuronal mechanisms of information processing in the mammalian brain. We have developed a discrete trial task where rodents (rats and mice), on every trial, make a choice (by licking at one of the two reward spouts or pressing a lever) in response to tactile sensory stimuli delivered to their whiskers or forepaws. Training animals to perform this task is usually manual and therefore a time-consuming procedure. Thus, the need for an autonomous apparatus for automated training and testing the animals is fundamental to increase efficiency and decrease human error. This project includes implementing methods of detecting and monitoring different behavioural measures, such as: body gesture and movement; head position; ultrasonic vocalisations; forepaw and forelimb position and gesture; whisking etc, during the task. Basic knowledge of machine learning, programming and electronics is recommended. During this fun project, prospective students will learn how to analyse and record behavioural measures using pattern detection and discrimination techniques and to program single-board computers (such as Raspberry Pi) and microcontrollers (such as Arduino) to interact with animals, monitor and control their behaviour. Direct work with animals is not required, however there will be the opportunity to observe animal experiments.
raspberry, pi, python, autonomous, engineering, programming, SBC, behavioural, neuroscience, technology, development
Masters by research
Masters by coursework
Top-up scholarship funding available