BACKGROUND: Deficits in social behaviour, e.g. social withdrawal, appear as an early sign of many neuropsychiatric disorders. Investigation of the biological basis of social withdrawal and development of new targets for treatment requires reliable quantification methods of social behaviour.
NEW METHOD: In order to study behavioural deficits in preclinical rodent models, we developed a tracking and analysis tool for behavioural observations in groups of mice. RFID-Assisted SocialScan is based on video tracking supported by radio-frequency identification (RFID). For this purpose, mice were labelled with RFID tags providing unique animal identity and location in the arena. An integrated software package enables automatic detection of predefined behavioural events, which are extracted from video recordings. We designed a social arena that can be flexibly adapted for various behavioural experiments.
RESULTS: We demonstrate the utility of our newly developed tracking tool by monitoring colonies of C57BL/6 J mice. We assessed social (approach, contact, follow, leave) and locomotor activities over multiple days.
COMPARISON WITH OTHER EXISTING METHODS: RFID-Assisted SocialScan is an automated tracking and analysis tool for long-term behavioural observations of multiple freely moving mice housed in ethologically relevant environment.
CONCLUSIONS: Here, we demonstrate the performance of a newly developed behavioural tracking system that can be used for long-term translational studies of social behaviour in groups of freely moving mice.