Tracking head position and orientation in small mammals is crucial for many applications in the field of behavioral neurophysiology, from the study of spatial navigation to the investigation of active sensing and perceptual representations. Many approaches to head tracking exist, but most of them only estimate the 2D coordinates of the head over the plane where the animal navigates. Full reconstruction of the pose of the head in 3D is much more more challenging and has been achieved only in handful of studies, which employed headsets made of multiple LEDs or inertial units. However, these assemblies are rather bulky and need to be powered to operate, which prevents their application in wireless experiments and in the small enclosures often used in perceptual studies. Here we propose an alternative approach, based on passively imaging a lightweight, compact, 3D structure, painted with a pattern of black dots over a white background. By applying a cascade of feature extraction algorithms that progressively refine the detection of the dots and reconstruct their geometry, we developed a tracking method that is highly precise and accurate, as assessed through a battery of validation measurements. We show that this method can be used to study how a rat samples sensory stimuli during a perceptual discrimination task and how a hippocampal place cell represents head position over extremely small spatial scales. Given its minimal encumbrance and wireless nature, our method could be ideal for high-throughput applications, where tens of animals need to be simultaneously and continuously tracked. NEW & NOTEWORTHY Head tracking is crucial in many behavioral neurophysiology studies. Yet reconstruction of the head’s pose in 3D is challenging and typically requires implanting bulky, electrically powered headsets that prevent wireless experiments and are hard to employ in operant boxes. Here we propose an alternative approach, based on passively imaging a compact, 3D dot pattern that, once implanted over the head of a rodent, allows estimating the pose of its head with high precision and accuracy.
A passive, camera-based head-tracking system for real-time, three-dimensional estimation of head position and orientation in rodents / Vanzella, W.; Grion, N.; Bertolini, D.; Perissinotto, A.; Gigante, M.; Zoccolan, D.. - In: JOURNAL OF NEUROPHYSIOLOGY. - ISSN 0022-3077. - 122:6(2019), pp. 2220-2242. [10.1152/jn.00301.2019]
|Titolo:||A passive, camera-based head-tracking system for real-time, three-dimensional estimation of head position and orientation in rodents|
|Autori:||Vanzella, W.; Grion, N.; Bertolini, D.; Perissinotto, A.; Gigante, M.; Zoccolan, D.|
|Data di pubblicazione:||2019|
|Digital Object Identifier (DOI):||http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/jn.00301.2019|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||1.1 Journal article|