Vision analyzes fruit fly behavior

APRIL 24, 2009--Scientists at the California Institute of Technology have trained image processing computers to automatically analyze aggression and courtship, opening the way for researchers to perform large-scale, high-throughput screens for genes that control these innate behaviors.

Apr 24th, 2009

APRIL 24, 2009--Scientists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech; Pasadena, CA, USA) have trained computers to automatically analyze aggression and courtship in fruit flies, opening the way for researchers to perform large-scale, high-throughput screens for genes that control these innate behaviors.

The program allows computers to examine half an hour of video footage of pairs of interacting flies in what is almost real time; characterizing the behavior of a new line of flies "by hand" might take a biologist more than 100 hours. This work, led by Pietro Perona and David J. Anderson, is detailed in the April 2009 issue of Nature Methods.

Previously, the only way to do this was to have students watch video tapes over and over to record one particular type of behavior at a time, says Anderson. Using the techniques of machine vision and combining them with other engineering advancements, the two began training computers to see and recognize aggression and courtship behaviors.

The result was an automated system that can monitor a variety of behaviors in videos of interacting fruit-fly pairs in a matter of minutes. For more information, go to: http://mr.caltech.edu/media/Press_Releases/PR13247.html

-- Posted by Conard Holton, Vision Systems Design, www.vision-systems.com

More in Scientific & Industrial Research