Recently, Drai et al. (J Neurosci Methods 96 (2000) 119) have introduced an algorithm that segments rodent locomotor behavior into natural units of 'staying in place' (lingering) behavior versus going between places (progression segments). This categorization, based on the maximum speed attained within the segment, was shown to be intrinsic to the data, using the statistical method of Gaussian Mixture Model. These results were obtained in normal rats and mice using very large (650 or 320 cm) circular arenas and a video tracking system. In the present study, we reproduce these results with amphetamine, phencyclidine and saline injected rats, using data measured by a standard photobeam tracking system in square 45 cm cages. An intrinsic distinction between two or three 'gears' could be shown in all animals. The spatial distribution of these gears indicates that, as in the large arena behavior, they correspond to the difference between 'staying in place' behavior and 'going between places'. The robustness of this segmentation over arena size, different measurement system and dose of two psychostimulant drugs indicates that this is an intrinsic, natural segmentation of rodent locomotor behavior. Analysis of photobeam data that is based on this segmentation has thus a potential use in psychopharmacology research.
- Exploratory behavior
- Open field