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In Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology

The assessment of rodent behavior forms a cornerstone of preclinical assessment in neuroscience research. Nonetheless, the true and almost limitless potential of behavioral analysis has been inaccessible to scientists until very recently. Now, in the age of machine vision and deep learning, it is possible to extract and quantify almost infinite numbers of behavioral variables, to break behaviors down into subcategories and even into small behavioral units, syllables or motifs. However, the rapidly growing field of behavioral neuroethology is experiencing birthing pains. The community has not yet consolidated its methods, and new algorithms transfer poorly between labs. Benchmarking experiments as well as the large, well-annotated behavior datasets required are missing. Meanwhile, big data problems have started arising and we currently lack platforms for sharing large datasets-akin to sequencing repositories in genomics. Additionally, the average behavioral research lab does not have access to the latest tools to extract and analyze behavior, as their implementation requires advanced computational skills. Even so, the field is brimming with excitement and boundless opportunity. This review aims to highlight the potential of recent developments in the field of behavioral analysis, whilst trying to guide a consensus on practical issues concerning data collection and data sharing.

von Ziegler Lukas, Sturman Oliver, Bohacek Johannes