STSM Grant Report – Justyna Hinchcliffe

Details of the STSM

Title: Utilising LABORAS system to quantify the activity and behavioural patterns in male and female rats

Start and end date: 03/09/2023 to 08/09/2023

Host: Interdisciplinary Neurobehavioral Core (INBC), of Heidelberg University, Germany

Host website:

Description of the work carried out during the STSM

During my visit, my host Dr Claudia Pitzer has shown me her behavioural unit with particular focus on two systems used for home cage recording: LABORAS and IntelliCage. For my proposed project, we focused on the LABORAS system where I tested Lister Hooded rats from different housing conditions, group- and single-housed, and looked at activity and behavioural patterns between males and females. My primary behavioural readouts were locomotion, rearing, grooming, eating and drinking time. I have incorporated within the experimental setup an automated time-sampling of ultrasonic vocalisations at the same time as home cage recording. I have also had the opportunity to give my input to a few ongoing behavioural experiments. 

We extensively discussed commercially available, current home cage monitoring systems, advantages and disadvantages, their technical and scientific improvements, and also how to improve my current self-developed home cage monitoring system used for group-housed rats at my home institution. I gave presentation about my research involving how to objectively measure animal emotions from animal welfare and depression research perspective, as well as we discussed animal welfare refinements used at my home institution.