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Papers of the Week

Papers: 4 May 2024 - 10 May 2024

2024 May 07


Remote automated delivery of mechanical stimuli coupled to brain recordings in behaving mice.


Justin Burdge, Anissa Jhumka, Simon Ogundare, Nicholas Baer, Sasha Fulton, Brittany Bistis, William Foster, Andre Toussaint, Miao Li, Yosuke M. Morizawa, Leah Yadessa, Ashar Khan, Abednego Delinois, Wadzanayi Mayiseni, Noah Loran, Guang Yang, Ishmail Abdus-Saboor


The canonical framework for testing pain and mechanical sensitivity in rodents is manual delivery of stimuli to the paw. However, this approach can produce variability in results, requires significant training, and is ergonomically unfavorable to the experimenter. To circumvent limitations in manual delivery of stimuli, we have created a device called the ARM (Automated Reproducible Mechano-stimulator). Built using a series of linear stages, cameras, and stimulus holders, the ARM is more accurate at hitting the desired target, delivers stimuli faster, and decreases variability in delivery of von Frey hair filaments. We demonstrate that the ARM can be combined with traditional measurements of pain behavior and automated machine-learning based pipelines. Importantly, the ARM enables remote testing of mice with experimenters outside the testing room. Using remote testing, we found that mice appeared to habituate more quickly when an experimenter was not present and experimenter presence leads to significant sex-dependent differences in withdrawal behavior. Lastly, to demonstrate the utility of the ARM for neural circuit dissection of pain mechanisms, we combined the ARM with cellular-resolved microendoscopy in the amygdala, linking stimulus, behavior, and brain activity of amygdalar neurons that encode negative pain states. Taken together, the ARM improves speed, accuracy, and robustness of mechanical pain assays and can be combined with automated pain detection systems and brain recordings to map pain sensation and affect.