Open-source, Python-based, hardware and software for controlling behavioural neuroscience experiments

Akam, T. et al. (2022) Open-source, Python-based, hardware and software for controlling behavioural neuroscience experiments. eLife, 11, e67846. (doi: 10.7554/eLife.67846) (PMID:35043782) (PMCID:PMC8769647)

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Laboratory behavioural tasks are an essential research tool. As questions asked of behaviour and brain activity become more sophisticated, the ability to specify and run richly structured tasks becomes more important. An increasing focus on reproducibility also necessitates accurate communication of task logic to other researchers. To these ends, we developed pyControl, a system of open-source hardware and software for controlling behavioural experiments comprising a simple yet flexible Python-based syntax for specifying tasks as extended state machines, hardware modules for building behavioural setups, and a graphical user interface designed for efficiently running high-throughput experiments on many setups in parallel, all with extensive online documentation. These tools make it quicker, easier, and cheaper to implement rich behavioural tasks at scale. As important, pyControl facilitates communication and reproducibility of behavioural experiments through a highly readable task definition syntax and self-documenting features. Here, we outline the system’s design and rationale, present validation experiments characterising system performance, and demonstrate example applications in freely moving and head-fixed mouse behaviour.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:Funding: Wellcome Trust (WT096193AIA) - Thomas Akam; Wellcome Trust (214314/Z/18/Z) - Thomas Akam, Mark E Walton; Wellcome Trust (202831/Z/16/Z) - Mark E Walton; Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación (RTI2018-097843-B-100 and RYC-2014-16450) - Cristina Márquez; Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación (SEV-2017-0723) - Cristina Márquez; Generalitat Valenciana and European Union (ACIF/2019/017) - Joan Esteve-Agraz; Else-Kroner-Fresenius-Foundation/German-Scholars-Organization (GSO/EKFS 12) - Dennis Kätzel; Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (KA 4594/2-1) - Dennis Kätzel; Wellcome Trust (109908/Z/15/Z) - Mariangela Panniello; Human Frontiers Science Programme (RGY0073/2015) - Michael M Kohl; National Institutes of Health (5U19NS104649) - Rui M Costa; H2020 European Research Council (617142) - Rui M Costa.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Kohl, Dr Michael and Panniello, Dr Mariangela
Creator Roles:
Panniello, M.Investigation, Writing – review and editing
Kohl, M.Conceptualization, Funding acquisition, Supervision, Writing – review and editing
Kohl, M. M.Resources
Authors: Akam, T., Lustig, A., Rowland, J. M., Kapanaiah, S. K.T., Esteve-Agraz, J., Panniello, M., Márquez, C., Kohl, M. M., Kätzel, D., Costa, R. M., and Walton, M. E.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Psychology & Neuroscience
Journal Name:eLife
Publisher:eLife Sciences Publications
ISSN (Online):2050-084X
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2022 The Authors
First Published:First published in eLife 11:e67846
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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