Next, I had the pleasure of visiting Dr. Andrea Benucci’s lab at RIKEN Center for Brain Science Institute. Dr. Benucci and O’Hara teamed up to design the Self Head-Restraining Platform, a high throughput system for mouse behavior and neurophysiology.

Teaching mice to perform head-fixed behavioral tasks during neural recording has proven extremely laborious and time consuming, making such experiments extremely low throughput.

According to Dr. Benucci, “As a post-doc, I spent months training individual mice to perform head-fixed behavioral tasks during two-photon imaging sessions, and thought there has to be a better way!”

Dr. Benucci felt compelled to find a solution to this problem. His answer was the Self Head-Restraining Platform. With this system, mice learn to voluntarily head-fix themselves into a self-latching device in order to receive a water reward. The platform affixes to the home cage, and the dual-cage platform can train up to 4 mice per day.

Me with Dr. Andrea Benucci in his testing room, where he currently has 12 working platforms!

Dr. Benucci has 12 platforms set up in his lab to effectively train 48 mice per day! Once mice are trained to head-fix (1-2 weeks), they are then trained on a complex visual discrimination task and imaged under a two-photon microscope. With the self-latching system, mice can be imaged for up to 20 minutes at a time.

To learn more about Dr. Benucci’s research check out his website.

You can find the full paper on the Self Head-Restraining Platform published in Nature on the Self Head-Restraining Platform product page on our website!

Stay tuned for my next stop – Kyoto University!