Operant devices have been used for many years in animal behavior research, yet such devices are generally highly specialized and quite expensive. Although commercial models are somewhat adaptable and resilient, they are also extremely expensive and are controlled by difficult to learn proprietary software. As an alternative to commercial devices, we have designed and produced a fully functional, programmable operant device, using a PICmicro microcontroller (Microchip Technology, Inc.). The electronic operant testing apparatus (ELOPTA) is designed to deliver food when a study animal, in this case a bird, successfully depresses the correct sequence of illuminated keys. The device logs each keypress and can detect and log whenever a test animal is positioned at the device. Data can be easily transferred to a computer and imported into any statistical analysis software. At about 3% the cost of a commercial device, ELOPTA will advance behavioral sciences, including behavioral ecology, animal learning and cognition, and ethology.
Behavior Research Method Operant Device Proprietary Software Serial Port Commercial Device
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