TaskForcer: Restraint Chamber for Operant Conditioning

High-throughput behavioral testing systems that enable real-time measurements of neural activity with unprecedented precision.

Obtain precise real-time measurements of neural circuits during operant conditioning.

The TaskForcer is ideal for examining neural circuit mechanisms during a variety of operant tasks. In the TaskForcer, animals learn to pull a lever to receive a water reward under partial restraint.The stainless steel chamber prevents movement, with the exception of the eyes, mouth and forepaws. Unlike traditional operant tests where the operandum and reward are separate, the TaskForcer utilizes a lever with an integrated water spout for quicker learning. Animals learn the task in just 3 days. (Kimura et al., 2009).

The TaskForcer comes with Operant Task studio software that allows researchers to easily program their own tasks.

  • Precisely monitor neural activity simultaneously alongside behavior 
  • Animals learn to pull a lever for a water reward in just 3 days, so you can start experiments quickly
  • Compatible with existing in vivo electrophysiology and advanced imaging methods
  • Compatible with sound/visual/odor stimuli and optogenetic stimulation
  • Cables and speakers are electromagnetically shielded for electrophysiology recording

What is unique about the TaskForcer and spout lever?

One of the most challenging questions in Neuroscience is understanding how neural circuits give rise to behaviors in the living, moving animal. Advanced neurophysiological techniques such as in vivo whole cell recordings, optogenetics and two-photon microscopy now provide a means to image awake animals under head fixation. However, head fixation can often inhibit learning and decrease performance of behavioral tasks. This makes it challenging to monitor neural circuits in vivo while animals perform operant tasks. 

In traditional operant conditioning, the lever (operandum) and reward system are separate. The TaskForcer contains a unique “spout lever” in which the lever and reward spout are integrated into one device to allow for more efficient learning.  This “spout-lever” also allows the experimenter to precisely monitor neural activity during operant tests because the animal can still obtain the reward under head-fixation. This technology makes it easy to  precisely monitor and manipulate neural circuits in vivoduring a variety of behaviors and operant conditioning paradigms. 

Specifications : Maximum stroke = 18 mm; Minimum force = 2 g

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Components

Software: Operant Test Design Examples

Applications

Learning and memory

Motor skill Learning

Addiction/Motivation

Application Note: 

Stable whole cell recordings in motor cortex during motor skills learning. 

Using the TaskForcer, Kimura and colleagues were able to gather in vivo whole cell recordings from the motor cortex in rats, while they learned to pull a lever to receive a liquid reward. (Isomura et al., 2009)

Selected Publications

Kimura, R. et al. Reinforcing operandum: rapid and reliable learning of skilled forelimb movements by head-fixed rodents. Journal of Neurophysiology 108, 1781–1792 (2012).

Kimura, R., Saiki, A., Fujiwara-Tsukamoto, Y., Sakai, Y. & Isomura, Y. Large-scale analysis reveals populational contributions of cortical spike rate and synchrony to behavioural functions: Large-scale analysis of cortical spike synchrony. J Physiol 595, 385–413 (2017).

Nonomura, S. et al. Monitoring and Updating of Action Selection for Goal-Directed Behavior through the Striatal Direct and Indirect Pathways. Neuron 99, 1302-1314.e5 (2018).

Aoki, R. et al. Phase-dependent activity of neurons in the rostral part of the thalamic reticular nucleus with saccharin intake in a cue-guided lever-manipulation task. Brain Research 1658, 42–50 (2017).

Terada, S., Sakurai, Y., Nakahara, H. & Fujisawa, S. Temporal and Rate Coding for Discrete Event Sequences in the Hippocampus. Neuron 94, 1248-1262.e4 (2017).

Masamizu, Y. et al. Two distinct layer-specific dynamics of cortical ensembles during learning of a motor task. Nature Neuroscience 17, 987–994 (2014).

Hori, Y. et al. Ventral striatum links motivational and motor networks during operant-conditioned movement in rats. NeuroImage 184, 943–953 (2019).

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