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Methods paper on SIT published in Frontiers in Behav. Neuroscience
We are very pleased to announce the publication of our Methods paper titled:
Sensory Island Task (SIT): A New Behavioral Paradigm to Study Sensory Perception and Neural Processing in Freely Moving Animals
We encourage all interested to try SIT, we are more than happy to assist! The code for running SIT and basic statistical analysis is freely available at https://gin.g-node.org/asobolev/runsit/
In SIT, animals explore an open-field arena to find a sensory target relying solely on changes in the presented stimulus, which is controlled by closed-loop position tracking in real-time. Within a few sessions, animals are trained via positive reinforcement to search for a particular area in the arena (“target island”), which triggers the presentation of the target stimulus. The location of the target island is randomized across trials, making the modulated stimulus feature the only informative cue for task completion. Animals report detection of the target stimulus by remaining within the island for a defined time (“sit-time”). Multiple “non-target” islands can be incorporated to test psychometric discrimination and identification performance. We exemplify the suitability of SIT for rodents (Mongolian gerbil, Meriones unguiculatus) and small primates (mouse lemur, Microcebus murinus) and for studying various sensory perceptual performances (auditory frequency discrimination, sound source localization, visual orientation discrimination). Furthermore, we show that pairing SIT with chronic electrophysiological recordings allows revealing neuronal signatures of sensory processing under ecologically relevant conditions during goal-oriented behavior. In conclusion, SIT represents a flexible and easily implementable behavioral paradigm for mammals that combines self-motion and natural exploratory behavior to study sensory sensitivity and decision-making and their underlying neuronal processing.
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