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Automation of the Light/Dark test requires support for hidden zones and a comprehensive selection of locomotor related results.

ANY-maze typically uses a 'hidden zone' (an area where the camera can’t see the animal) to automate the light/dark test. However, with the inclusion of an ANY-maze IR illuminator, activity in the dark can also be detected, making the results that ANY-maze reports even more comprehensive - see the Benefits tab, below, to learn more.

On the other tabs you'll find some videos of light/dark tests, as well as details of recommended equipment and a list of results that are especially useful in this apparatus.

Page Intro picture

Hidden zones

ANY-maze includes support for one or more hidden zones in your apparatus. When the camera can’t see the animal it is considered to be in a hidden zone. In the case of multiple hidden zones, the specific zone it is in is determined by where it was last seen. In the Light/Dark box there is typically only one hidden zone, so setting it up is very straightforward.

ANY-maze also allows you to specify what proportion of the animal needs to leave a hidden zone for an exit from the zone to occur. This can be very useful to fine-tune exits – for example, you may want to count the animal as leaving the dark side when just 15% of its body (i.e. its head) is visible.

Hidden zones picture

Tracking in the dark side

By using an ANY-maze infrared illuminator (shown here) together with an infrared sensitive camera, such as the ANY-maze USB camera, ANY-maze is able to see through black infrared transparent Perspex. We make the dark side of our Light/Dark box from this material, which means it is possible to track the animal’s activity in both side of the apparatus.

This allows a much richer set of results to be reported – for example, you can compare the distance travelled, the speed, the time immobile, etc. between the light and the dark sides.

Tracking in the dark side picture

Detecting rears

ANY-maze detects rearing using an array of photo-beams positioned such that when the animal rears it breaks beams in the array. We manufacture an array of this type designed specifically for use with ANY-maze – it’s pictured on the right, as part of the ANY-box system, together with our Light/Dark box.

If the dark side of your Light/Dark box is made from infrared transparent black Perspex (as is the case of the box pictured here) then you will be able to detect rears in both sides of the box and compare them.

Detecting rears picture

Tracking simultaneously in multiple apparatus

Tracking simultaneously in, for example, four Light/Dark boxes is a great way to speed up throughput in an experiment.

  • Setting up multiple boxes is hardly any more work than setting up one, as most settings are automatically applied across all the apparatus.
  • You can have a single camera for each box, or you can have multiple boxes viewed by the same camera, or any combination – for example, two cameras each viewing two Light/Dark boxes.
  • Tests in all the apparatus can be run independently, or you can control them together if you prefer.
Tracking simultaneously in multiple apparatus picture

Viewing the animal's track

ANY-maze can plot the animal’s track or as a heat map.

Track plots, like the one on the right, show where the animal went during the test. In this case the green marker shows where the animal started the test, the red marker where it ended it and the orange markers indicate where the animal was immobile for two seconds or more.

As is clear from this plot, the animal was more active in the dark side (in the left) than in the light.

Viewing the animal's track picture