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PLoS One. 2017 Apr 26;12(4):e0176633. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0176633. eCollection 2017.

A novel rat head gaze determination system based on optomotor responses.

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Department of Design and Media Technology, Graduate School of Engineering, Iwate University, Morioka, Iwate, Japan.
Department of Chemistry and Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Iwate University, Morioka, Iwate, Japan.


The optomotor response of animals is commonly used to measure their visual performance, e.g., rats of different genetically altered strains or various drug tests. With the presentation of stimuli using computer screens or projectors, the common idea focuses on measuring the eye movement or head and/or body movement to characterize changes of the head gaze. However, traditional methods rely on either the invasive fixation of animals, or the judgment of a human observer who reports the stimulus-tracking movements. In this paper, we propose a novel head gaze determination system to automatically track the head movement of rats without artificial markers. The experiments were done to demonstrate the process of optimizing parameters in image processing. As a result, the head angle curve of the proposed method is consistent with that of ground-truth data annotated manually according to predefined rules. Hence, the proposed method provides a simple, convenient, and objective solution to automatically generate the head gaze orientations from massive amounts of recorded data for further visual performance analysis.

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