A Smart Wireless Homecage for High Throughput Longitudinal Animal Studies In vivo electrophysiology (i.e. in live animal subjects) has been a powerful tool in studying the functional organization of the nervous system in animals to generate the knowledge that will eventually aid in prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disease and dysfunction in humans. It has provided groundbreaking information on areas ranging from the organization of primary visual cortex to neural correlates of working memory, which has helped in the treatment of disorders ranging from schizophrenia to epilepsy to depression. Many experimental questions, particularly in behavioral neuroscience and development of neuroprosthetic technologies, require long-term experiments on awake freely behaving subjects, and logistical constraints such as cost, lifespan, and housing often necessitate using small animals, such as rodents. The technical challenges to this approach, which can affect the quality of the acquired data, center on finding ways to record data for extended periods while creating an enriched environment for the subjects as close as possible to their natural habitat. Moreover, these experiments are extremely labor-intensive, and therefore, costly. There is a need to automate data collection from multiple subjects in parallel for statistical validation with minimum human intervention. The current proposal describes research to develop and test a new technology to overcome these challenges. We propose to develop a new version of the EnerCage system, an inductively-powered wireless data acquisition system for electrophysiology experiments on small freely behaving animal subjects, which is the size of a standard homecage. The key advantage of the new EnerCage-HC system is that it will be compatible with the existing animal facility infrastructure, and allow researches to run long-term experiments on a large number of small animals in parallel without occupying their precious laboratory space or engaging their highly- skilled staff in laborious monitoring tasks. Other advantages of the EnerCage-HC system are wirelessly powering and communicating with any electronic instrument that might be attached to or implanted in the animal subject body for recording physiological parameters, stimulating the nervous system, or delivering drugs. Therefore, it not only eliminates cable attachment to animals, which cause stress, tethering effect, and prevent housing multiple social animals together due to tangling and twisting of the wires, but also relieves the animals from carrying bulky battery payloads needed by other wireless solutions. The EnerCage-HC system will also be capable of accurately tracking the 3-D position and orientation of a magnetic tracer affixed to the animal body, which unlike optical methods does not require the animal to be in the line-of-sight.

Public Health Relevance

A Smart Wireless Homecage for High Throughput Longitudinal Animal Studies Most long term preclinical trials on small animals, such as rodents, particularly those that are related to electrophysiology, are very labor-intensive and occupy a large laboratory space because they need continuous monitoring. Moreover, animals are either tethered or need to carry bulky battery payloads, which bias their behaviors. We propose to develop a new inductively-powered wireless electrophysiological data acquisition system the size of a standard homecage, which can fit within animal facility infrastructure.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-ETTN-P (02))
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Peng, Grace
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Georgia Institute of Technology
Engineering (All Types)
Schools of Engineering
United States
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