Bursting with Curiosity: Combined Analysis of Behavioral and Neural Imaging Data in Mice Performing the Object Space Task.

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The object space task investigates memory consolidation in rodents. The task in- volves a series of training sessions during which animals are made to explore an arena that contains a number of objects placed according to a number of reposi- tioning rules. Presuming an innate curiosity in the rodents ('novelty bias'), one can use the exploratory behavior towards the objects as a measure of internalization of the object repositioning rules. This paper presents an integrated pipeline for the combined analysis of be- havioral videos and synchronized Ca2+-imaging footage of animals performing the object space task. It includes a streamlined version of the CNMF-E Ca2+-signal source extraction algorithm by Pnevmatikakis et al. (2016), a deep learning-based behavioral video classi er and a number of supervised and unsupervised statistical tests to investigate the neural correlates of memory formation. The basic functioning of the pipeline could be con rmed using a number of random permutation linear regression ts of the neural and behavioral data points. Moreover, statistical tests could be used for a rst exploratory investigation of the information content of the neural signal. Cells with correlated activity could be shown to encode certain types of abstract behavior like roaming, hiding or object exploration. Also, the neural signal could be shown to carry some intentional information when comparing the predictory power of the current signal for future and past behavioral states. Unfortunately, the amount of data analyzed so far is not su cient to draw any nal conclusions on neural ensemble formation during the object space task itself. However, large dataset of Ca2+-imaging recordings during the objects space task is currently available at the group and ready to be analyzed, with the potential to produce valuable insights on the neural correlate of memory consolidation.
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