Behavior Research Methods

, Volume 50, Issue 2, pp 816–825 | Cite as

OBAT: An open-source and low-cost operant box for auditory discriminative tasks

  • Mauricio Watanabe Ribeiro
  • José Firmino Rodrigues Neto
  • Edgard Morya
  • Fabrício Lima Brasil
  • Mariana Ferreira Pereira de Araújo


Operant-conditioning boxes are widely used in animal training, allowing researchers to shape specific behaviors through reinforcements and/or punishments. Commercially available devices are expensive and run with proprietary software and hardware, hampering adaptations for the specific needs of an experiment. Therefore, many low-cost and open-source devices have recently been developed, but there are still few options for studying auditory behaviors. To overcome this problem, we developed a device based on a computer and an Arduino Mega 2560 board, named OBAT (Operant Box for Auditory Tasks), designed to present two different auditory stimuli to small primates. It has three modules: sound delivery, response bars, and reward system. We estimate that OBAT is at least 4–10 times cheaper than commercially available operant-conditioning boxes. Data from a behavioral pilot test ensured that the device can be used to train a marmoset in an auditory discrimination task. In addition, despite its low cost, accuracy tests showed that the OBAT operates with a high temporal precision. All schematics and software source code are available so that other groups can easily replicate the experiment or adapt the device to their own needs.


Operant-conditioning box Auditory processing Discriminative learning Arduino 


Author note

This project was supported by the National Institutes of Science and Technology program Brain Machine Interface (INCT INCEMAQ) of the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq/MCTI), Rio Grande do Norte Research Foundation (FAPERN), Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES), Brazilian Innovation Agency (FINEP), and Ministry of Education (MEC). We thank Denis Matrov for his help with animal handling at the beginning of the project and for his fruitful discussions of the former versions of this article. We also thank Phillip César da Silva for helping with the electrical boards and schematics.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mauricio Watanabe Ribeiro
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • José Firmino Rodrigues Neto
    • 1
    • 2
  • Edgard Morya
    • 1
    • 2
  • Fabrício Lima Brasil
    • 1
    • 2
  • Mariana Ferreira Pereira de Araújo
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Graduate Program in NeuroengineeringEdmond and Lily Safra International Institute of Neuroscience, Santos Dumont InstituteMacaibaBrazil
  2. 2.Alberto Santos Dumont Association for Research SupportMacaíbaBrazil
  3. 3.Hospital Israelita Albert EinsteinMorumbiBrazil

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